Mahoning County Juvenile Court One of Only Four Juvenile Courts in the Country Awarded School Justice Partnership Grant by U.S. Department of Justice/Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
Committed to educating and graduating all students, five Mahoning County School districts, Austintown, Boardman, Struthers, Mahoning County High School and Youngstown City, are participating in the three year pilot program in, aimed at deterring truancy and preventing dropout by identifying students who struggle with attendance, behavior, and grades, through an early warning system and providing early interventions to help students stay on a path to graduation. Funding for the project, ($600,000), is being provided through a “Now Is the Time School Justice Collaboration Award: Keeping Kids in School and Out of Court “, grant, awarded to the court from the U.S. Department of Justice/Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Technical assistance is being provided by the following organizations, the National Council for Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress Network and the National Association of State Boards of Education. The Courts role is to provide schools with resources, training and personnel to work collaboratively with partner schools to foster education completion and deter students from involvement with the justice system.
States and districts throughout the nation are using early warning systems to monitor indicators that research has shown to be strong predictors of academic success. Early warning systems use individual student data, to generate indicators of on-track status for graduation including attendance, behavior and course performance. Confidential scores are based on the number of unexcused absences, in school and out of school suspensions, and the number of core classes the student has failed. When a student falls below established threshold levels set by the school district, the schools early warning team made up of educators, administrators, and guidance counselors intervenes with the intent of getting a student back on track . Early warning teams made up of school administrators, educators and counselors have been formed within each school building. Teams use data to identify students in need of intervention and provide positive interventions. Court, school and community resources are considered in the intervention process presented to the family.
The grant also provides financial support for the Illuminate software system. In addition to creating early warning systems in partner school districts, the grant also provides training and resources to improve overall school climate, since both students and educators benefit from a positive learning environment. The entire program has been designed to be sustainable after the grant period.