Juvenile Court Judges Lead Teams in LaGrange Educational Summit

On July 19-20, 2012, modeling a state and national School-Justice Partnership, the Administrative Office of the Courts and the Georgia Department of Education (GDOE) brought together 23 judicially-led teams from across the state at LaGrange College to learn and discuss how to improve educational outcomes for children involved with the juvenile courts.  The teams — composed of a juvenile court judge, a school administrator, a representative from the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS), a representative from the Department of Juvenile Justice or the court staff handling delinquent cases, and an additional person to be named by the judge — attended the two-day summit and participated in facilitated goal-setting sessions. 
The summit, entitled "Conditioned for Success: Improving Educational Outcomes for Court-Involved Children," shared effective interventions from throughout Georgia. The goal of the project is to maximize the potential of each child in terms of that individual child's educational, social, artistic, athletic, and spiritual gifts.
Through private foundation funding from the Emmett and Nancy Hart Foundation, the Vivian Phillips Charitable Trust, and Casey Family Programs, Troup County Juvenile Court Judge Michael Key and his staff served as the hosts for the July summit.  Local partners in the summit included Troup County Division of Family and Children Services, the Troup County Department of Juvenile Justice, the Troup County School Superintendent’s Office, and LaGrange College.
Presenters at the summit on the first day included Justice P. Harris Hines, Supreme Court of Georgia; Clyde Reese, Commission, Department of HS ; Dr. Page Walley, Casey Family Programs, Mr. Jeff Minor, DJJ Assistant Commissioner; Mr. Bobby Cagle, Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) Commissioner; and Judge Gregory Poole, President, Council of Juvenile Court Judges.
On the second day, Mr. Bobby Cagle and Ms. Stephanie Blank, from the Georgia Early Learning Education Alliance, discussed the 0-5 population.  Ms. Leslie Stewart, Dr. Kyle Berry, DFCS, and Dr. McGibboney, (GDOE) presented on elementary and middle school focus work.   Judge Steve Teske, Clayton County Juvenile Court, and Dr. John Barge, Superintendent, GDOE, closed out the day with information about effective, evidence-based programs that keep children out of court and DJJ custody and in school. 
Major takeaways from the July summit included a toolkit created by the conference committee, which listed suggestions for all the things local communities can do to improve outcomes for at risk children.  At the end of the summit, attendees were asked to fill out a card stating what they would do by next week, by next month, and by next year.  The priorities that attendees identified were: (1) hosting local summits, (2) focusing on 0-5 population of children, (3) learning more about the DECAL quality ratings for child care, (4) putting PBIS (Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support) in place, and (5) working to get easier access to information about their children’s (those known to the court and agencies) academic performance.  
A panel made up of young adults who spent time as children in foster care and juvenile justice systems closed the summit by telling the audience what worked and what did not for them in regard to meeting their educational needs.  Many of the young adults cited support from teachers, case managers, and probation officers that made all the difference.  One of the speakers, Ms. Shaquita Ogletree, asked all the juvenile court judges in the room to stand.  Then she asked how many had been on the job for over ten years, many raised their hands. Ms. Ogleetree charged the judges: “You (judges) are the most stable people in these state systems for children, we need you to fight harder for us to succeed.  The children in your system depend on you.”
For an evaluation report of the July summit, to access the toolkit reference above and for general information about Conditioned for Success, see: www.gaeducationalsummit2012.us 


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