One of SJP's oldest clients, Dwayne, provided testimony via Skype on his experiences committed to D.C.'s juvenile justice agency. You can listen to his full testimony here.
After Dwayne's compelling testimony, SJP Director of Programs Sarah Comeau testified. You can read SJP's written submitted testimony here.
"It is clear that educational continuity and access to appropriate special education services is a critical problem for students during detention, commitment, and incarceration. As a result, these students struggle to successfully return to our community and reengage in education. In turn, they struggle to secure employment and create positive futures for themselves and their families. There have been attempts to hold the responsible agencies accountable for these deprivations. Our work has led to the execution of an interagency MOA and the issuance of Letters of Decision instructing the agencies to take corrective action. Yet nothing has changed, and our students continue to pay the price.
We need a law to compel agency action. Students must receive credit for the work they complete. Students must have access to an education and a path to a high school diploma. But first, we must identify the strengths and weaknesses of each agency, understand their capacities, and be thoughtful about who should hold responsibility. We believe that this should be a collaborative process among the agencies, community-based organizations, and youth themselves, and we are ready to work in partnership to reach our common goal. We hope that today’s conversations are the first of many about these critical issues. We ask that as a follow-up to today’s hearing you convene a stakeholder meeting consisting of relevant agencies, students, and local community-based providers and stakeholders where, together, we will set an agenda for continued collaboration to develop a law that will ensure that students during detention, commitment, and incarceration can access a path to a high school diploma and receive credit for the work they complete."