Using Youth Courts as a Supportive School Discipline Practice

Event Type: 
Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - 3:00pm to 4:30pm

In July 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the creation of the Supportive School Discipline Initiative. The collaboration is aimed at targeting school disciplinary policies and practices that push youth out of school and many times into the justice system, also known as the school-to-prison pipeline. The importance of continued commitment to reforming our Nation’s school discipline practices was most recently underscored in The White House’s January 2013 plan to protect children and communities and its call to identify and share best practices on school discipline policies and equitable implementation.[1]

To increase awareness and understanding of the issues around school discipline and provide practical examples of policies and practices that maintain school and classroom safety while ensuring academic engagement and success for all students, we are pleased to announce the Supportive School Discipline (SSD) Webinar Series. Webinars in the series are open to anyone and will explore numerous topics, including current school discipline philosophies, policies, and practices, and emerging alternatives; addressing truancy and absenteeism; infusing restorative justice principles; the role of school resource officers (SROs) in supportive school discipline; the promise of trauma-informed practices; the importance of youth, family, and community engagement; and the need for professional development across all stakeholders.

This sixth Webinar in the series provided the knowledge that school, district, and court staff, law enforcement and legal personnel, youth, families, and other community stakeholders need to better understand how the use of youth courts in schools can ensure offender accountability while offering fair and restorative consequences for discipline infractions. By directing lower level cases away from the formal justice system, youth courts can be an integral part of a school’s supportive disciplinary process, serving as an alternative to traditional disciplinary measures such as suspension and detention. 

The Webinar featured Ms. Nancy Fishman, Project Director for the Center for Court Innovation’s Youth Justice Programs, who introduced the concept of youth courts and discuss various youth court models currently used in schools. She was joined by Ms. Lorrie Hurckes, Co-Director and Youth Court Coordinator with the Dane County TimeBank. Ms. Hurckes shared Madison, Wisconsin’s unique approach to youth courts in schools, which builds on the success of the national TimeBank model for exchanging time and services in the community. The Webinar also featured Ms. Kate Spaulding, who oversees the Pima Prevention Partnership’s (Tucson, Arizona) Teen Court in the Schools (TCIS) program. She discussed TCIS’ models of peer-led court proceedings and highlighted the program’s success in Tucson-area high schools.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES: As a result of participating in this session, participants will be able to:

  • Understand the primary purposes and functions of youth courts
  • Examine how, through policy and practice change, schools can use youth courts to develop a supportive discipline system
  • Understand the importance of peers in the youth court process and the goals of accountability and restoration.
  • Identify various models of youth courts employed by schools and districts using examples from some jurisdictions

AUDIENCE: This Webinar is appropriate for school district superintendents and allied staff, teachers, and support staff, school climate teams, student support personnel, school resource and security officers, probation/parole officers, law enforcement, judges and court administrators, legal personnel, youth, family members, and other community stakeholders.

RECORDING: View the archived recording of this event (FLV)

[1] The White House. 2013. Now Is The Time: The President’s plan to protect our children and our communities by r educing gun violence. Washington, DC: Author. Available online at (PDF).


U.S. Departments of Justice, Education, and Health and Human Services