School Discipline Reform: Incorporating the Supreme Court's 'Age Matters' Jurisprudence
52 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2014 Last revised: 7 Nov 2015
Date Written: March 14, 2013
Relying on social science, neuroscience, and common sense to elucidate the differences between childhood and adulthood, including levels of maturation, impulsivity, and susceptibility to peer pressure, the Supreme Court altered the criminal justice landscape for youth in Roper v. Simmons, Graham v. Florida, J.D.B. v. North Carolina, and Miller v. Alabama — the “age matters” cases. In this Article, we argue that these holdings should be applied outside of the criminal justice system to support efforts to reform school discipline laws, policies, and practices. Specifically, we argue that the science and common sense relied upon in the “age matters” cases similarly support eliminating punitive school discipline approaches, such as zero tolerance policies and school policing, and instead employing developmentally appropriate approaches such as positive behavioral interventions, community building in schools, robust due process for disciplinary proceedings, and adequate counselors, social workers, and psychologists. Implementing these reforms will help prevent youths from becoming ensnared in the school-to-prison pipeline.
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