Center for Effective Justice policy analyst Jeanette Moll will offer recommendations to improve Texas’ school discipline practices
AUSTIN – Jeanette Moll, policy analyst for the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, will testify before a joint hearing of the Senate Education and Criminal Justice Committees at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, October 30, 2012, in room E1.036 of the Texas Capitol. Moll will offer recommendations to improve Texas’ zero-tolerance and justice system-based school discipline systems with evidence-based, common sense school discipline models.
“Zero-tolerance school discipline, originally intended for those that commit serious offenses such as bringing guns or deadly weapons on school campuses, has been in effect for approximately 15 years and to date is not showing a significant safety improvement within the Texas school system despite its significant cost,” said Moll.
Moll adds that the costs of current discipline practices are spread across a variety of state and local government agencies and departments and difficult to track. However, in one year alone, Texas schools spent $327 million on security and monitoring services and another $232 million on Disciplinary Alternative Education Programs. In addition, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, today
13.3 percent of all violent crimes committed occur on school grounds – the same percentage as in 1996 when zero-tolerance policies became more pervasive.
Given the evidence of high costs without safer schools, Texas should consider alternative ways of handling school discipline that are proven to increase school safety while cutting costs for state and local governments.
According to Moll, a tiered model of school discipline practices would have better results. A tiered model provides for school-based interventions prior to turning to the justice system. This model has proven successful in Clayton County, Georgia and Texas is currently piloting this system in the Waco Independent School District (WISD). To date the district has implemented peer-to-peer mediation, mentoring, a parent-student program, and teen court to divert misbehaving students from the juvenile justice system. Early results reveal a 27 percent drop in citations from WISD at a cost of only $45 per student involved.
Jeanette Moll is a juvenile justice policy analyst for the Center for Effective Justice with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a non-profit, free-market research institute based in Austin.
The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a non-profit free-market research institute based in Austin.
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