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Youth

All young people must have the opportunity to meaningfully participate in our society.  The ACLU Youth Policy project seeks to ensure that young people – particularly those who have been historically excluded or underserved – receive meaningful education and services in communities, instead of being pushed to a juvenile justice system that will undermine their ability to be successful as adults.  Our current focus is on reforming school discipline policies and practices, working to limit school-based referrals to the juvenile justice system, and decreasing the over-reliance on jails and prisons for young people in the juvenile and adult criminal law systems.
Stop pushing special education students out of school:  ACLU of Washington lawsuit seeks to stop students who require special education from being pushed out of Washington's public schools
Settlement will limit the use of solitary confinement for youth in detention in Grays Harbor County.
Washington Supreme Court rules that judges can use age to impose more just sentences for youth
Prosecutors should think twice before charging teens who sext

Resources

Published: 
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Students in the Kennewick School District are celebrating today because last night the school board restored access to school resources for noncurricular clubs.
Published: 
Friday, August 26, 2011
The Washington Supreme Court issued a great and unanimous ruling for disabled students this Thursday in a case (Dowler v. Clover Park School District)  in which the ACLU-WA submitted a friend-of-the-court brief.  The facts in the case were horrendous, and the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was being used to stop the students from getting relief. 
Published: 
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
From her career as an athlete came some important lessons: “Don’t fear a challenge, welcome it.” “The game ain’t over till it’s over – there are many quarters, many innings, and you have to play every one hard.” “You’ll never know the true joy of victory unless you have known defeat. Be humble in both.” Maj. Margaret Witt found these maxims from the world of sports stood her in good stead during her years of service in the military – and during her long legal battle with the government over her dismissal from the military under the now-repealed “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.  
Published: 
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
On July 11, the Richland School Board voted 4-1 to bring Sherman Alexie’s young adult novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian back to all its high school classrooms. This welcome action reversed the board’s vote in June to exclude the novel from all high school classrooms after it was piloted for the 9th-grade curriculum.
News Release, Published: 
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Reversing an appeals court ruling, the Washington Supreme Court today found that a child has no right to counsel under the due process clause of the state or federal constitutions at initial truancy hearings. The ACLU of Washington submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in the case (Bellevue v. E.S.) supporting the right to counsel at such hearings. The brief said that the child’s liberty, privacy, and education were all at stake, and that the risks of error – even in initial truancy proceedings – warranted the child’s right to be represented by counsel.
Published: 
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Thinking back to myself at 13 years old, I recall a constant tension between the child I was and the adult I was becoming. Now I try to picture that version of myself being pulled from a classroom and taken to a conference room where two police officers and two school administrators want to question me about a neighborhood robbery. Would I have told officers I preferred they stop questioning me?  Or that I wanted to leave?
Published: 
Monday, June 27, 2011
This month, the Richland School Board voted 3 to 2 to exclude Sherman Alexie’s award-winning book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian from Richland high school classrooms. Alexie’s semiautobiographical novel won the National Book Award for young adults in 2007. It tells the story of Arnold “Junior” Spirit, a teenager growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Washington, where Alexie also grew up. Junior struggles as an awkward but bright 14-year-old who loves drawing comics. The book tackles many tough issues, including racism, alcoholism, poverty, death, as well as more typical teenage struggles like fitting in. The book was piloted for Richland’s ninth-grade language arts curriculum because of its realistic portrayal of the high school experience and compelling theme of perseverance. The piloting teacher acknowledged that the book contains some profanity and sexual references.
Published: 
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Some good news from the feds: the U.S. Department of Education has just sent a "dear colleague" letter to school districts in Washington and across the nation reminding them of students' legal right to form gay-straight alliances (GSAs).
Published: 
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
ACLU-WA Legislative Director Shankar Narayan was one of a group of lobbyists recognized with a Voices for Children award at  the annual awards luncheon the Children’s Alliance on Tuesday.  The lobbyist group, known as the Racial Equity Team, was presented the award in recognition of their work to advance racial equality issues in the 2012 legislative session. 
Published: 
Monday, June 6, 2011
Last month, a high school in southeastern Washington conducted a suspicionless drug search. Students were asked to leave their classroom so that a police officer with a “drug-detection dog” could check their backpacks for signs of drug possession. After the search, two students were singled out for a more invasive search and questioning. One had marijuana paraphernalia in his backpack; in the other, no signs of drugs or drug paraphernalia could be found. Good news for the second student—after the humiliating and anxiety-producing search was complete, he was permitted to go back to class.

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