Strategies – When the Juvenile Justice System Operates on “Blind Trust”

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What can a juvenile do if a juvenile court judge operates on “blind trust” with regard to the school system?

Doesn’t the court have to be told the student has an IEP? Shouldn’t the judge be required to have complete school records? The school labeled the student “disruptive” and “defiant” for . . .

. . . being late and not having homework done. When the judge saw the words “defiant, disruptive, and truant,” things went downhill fast.

The district started the steamroller, but they didn’t come along for the ride. They failed to provide information to the Court about the child’s disabilities and his IEP. Ultimately, the student won in court, but had no chance for a settlement even with an excellent neuropsych eval attesting to specific LDs.

Most juvenile court judges are advocates for children with disabilities but they can’t fulfill this role if they don’t have relevant information about the child and the case. You ask, “Shouldn’t the judge be required to have complete school records?” The judge can’t request information he doesn’t know exists. If the judge received school records, I imagine he thought they were complete.

frustrated boy

Adults need to ensure that the judge has the necessary information. If the child was represented by an attorney, it’s the attorney’s job to get this information before the judge. If the child is accompanied by a parent or guardian, this person is responsible for providing the judge with this information. If the child was arrested, he or she will usually be interviewed by a juvenile probation officer or intake officer before going to court. This person takes a history, requests records and provides information to the Court.

Before Pete went to law school, he worked as a juvenile probation officer for 10 years. He taught judges how schools work (and don’t work), how quickly many schools give up on children for whom learning is difficult, and about parent and child blaming. He taught judges about the link between learning disabilities, not learning to read, and serious behavior problems — the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Pipeline.

Most juvenile court judges were receptive to suggestions about how to help children who get into trouble. You’ll see this when you read his article, Strategies When Children Are Arrested for School Related Behavior Problems at

There will always be hard-nosed judges in the justice system. Not many end up in juvenile court.

Read more about the dangers of Blind Trust at

  1. Do people in authority have a right to do despicable things? My 7 year old great niece is autistic and has told me that a case worker at Dept. of Human Services has told her to say that she is scared of her father. The case worker used this information in court. Is there no rule against this pathetic and disgusting behavior on the part of the case worker. The half siblings to my great niece have also used this same sickening behavior to get her (my great niece) to say that her mother had spanked her (which did not happen because my niece is being supervised in her home, 24/7).
    My niece’s lawyer is not doing anything to protect this child. He says “DHS will do what they want to do since the child in is their system” Where are civil rights, justice and protection for a child with disabilities?

  2. I’m a parent, not a lawyer. What can i do to bring this information into court. I tried to explain the situation to the judge at one hearing and he told me that I needed to be a lawyer in order to have the matter considered.

    My frustration is at it’s peak. My son was again placed in detention and now i will have to again go through the school’s arbitrary placement in an alt ed program when he’s discharged.

    How can the juvenile court help and what steps can i take to make the transition smoother than the last time?

  3. My sons PO and Social Worker got the judge to actually order my son to drop out of school (at the urging of the schools) and to enroll in GED. When I requested an IEP meeting the following day My sons PO called and actually threatened to have me charged for contempt of court for not following the judges order. We have had the IEP and I am still waiting to be supoened or ordered back into court. Right now I am just waiting while I decide how to proceed in the best intrest for my son.

  4. What recourse, if any, is there for a parent (or the now-adult child) to take against a probation officer who fabricates damaging testimony against the child in front of a Juvenile Court Judge? At the time this occurred, the PO was pursuing a motion to amend the probation order because she was dissatisfied with the failure of the child to get a job, after she told him to do so, in vague, non-specific terms. The Court-appointed therapist testified that the child’s Asperger’s -related social issues would make it difficult. The PO, who had little understanding of the disability, tried to influence the judge into believing that the child had severe behavior problems and was a threat. Our lawyer recommended we do nothing at the time, for our son’s sake.

  5. David1:

    Your son’s experience shows why it is essential for parents to be attentive and proactive. Never assume someone else is going to resolve your child’s problems.

    Parents: It sounds like a cliche but you are your child’s best advocates. You represent your child’s interests at school and other areas of life. You can’t do this if you are passive, and accept what you are told when your eyes and experiences tell you different.

    But you also need to learn how to pick your battles. You battle for the big stuff. You do not battle until you have exhausted all other options to resolve your dispute. You do not battle until you are prepared.

    In the Wrightslaw model of special education advocacy, you hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and use the Rules of Adverse Assumptions to guide you. If you don’t know what this means, read the last issue of The Special Ed Advocate newsletter – To Avoid Conflict, Prepare for Conflict & the Rules of Adverse Assumptions at

  6. My son’s middle school attempted to file assault charges on my son when his school shadow actually assaulted him.

    An Assistant principal filed the charges. These charges were very quickly dropped when details such as my son being sent to the E.R. via ambulance, my son being the only one with visible injuries, and my son reporting that he attempted to leave school property after being denied lunch “privileges” by his shadow.

    We asked to see the discipline report. Other offenses had been added. The school’s attorney explained that this is a “code” for kids who are on an IEP. Oddly enough, the assistant principal reported that he didn’t report to authorities that my son was on an IEP because he was not aware.

    This “code” would have misled a judge or due process hearing officer.

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