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High-Risk Youth Education And Public Safety Program   

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The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:

(a) Recent studies strongly link school failure and criminal behavior. As noted by an Orange County Probation Department study of chronic juvenile offender recidivism, a majority of first-time referrals to probation who subsequently became chronic offenders had significant school problems, including truancy, suspension or expulsion for behavior problems, or failure of two or more academic subjects, and were 15 years of age or younger at the time of their first probation referral. A cycle is created under which poor school performance contributes to low attendance or disruptive behavior, or both. This, in turn, places unsupervised adolescents on the streets and at greater risk of committing delinquent acts. Early intervention and attention to the unique needs of high-risk youth can reduce the number of delinquent youth in communities.

(b) For high-risk youth, the current linkage between education and community programs is highly fragmented and inadequate. A multidisciplinary, collaborative approach that combines education with community services and law enforcement must be comprehensive and family focused. Parental support contributes to the likelihood of academic success and law-abiding behavior.

(c) Schools are the logical delivery sites for a multidisciplinary team approach that addresses the unique educational and public safety needs of high-risk youth. A continuum of care that spans prevention, early intervention, treatment, and reentry back into the system of school environment is needed.

(Added by Stats. 1997, Ch. 340, Sec. 1.)