The mission of the Eleventh Judicial District Court’s Grade Court is to work with the Juvenile Justice System and the Education System to reduce recidivism and the number of children committed to institutions by acknowledging the importance of educating youth in the community and to increase the success and self-esteem of juvenile offenders through the power of hard work and education.
Goals and Objectives
The Goals and Objectives of the Eleventh Judicial District Court’s Grade Court Program are:
- To improve school attendance and grades by Juvenile Grade Court participants.
- To reduce the likelihood of participants re-immersing themselves in the Criminal Justice System by improving their educational skills.
- To work cooperatively with school personnel, community agencies and juvenile justice programs to ensure the unified effort necessary to serve Program participants.
- To increase the ability of the Juvenile Grade Court participants to live successful, productive lives within the community by developing responsibility and accountability and enhancing self-esteem.
- For participants to demonstrate a commitment to positive change as measured by the successful completion of the program, graduation from school and eventual enrollment in a higher education.
Grade Court was started in January 1997 by a District Court Judge to make school performance a primary component of Juvenile Probation Supervision.
In the beginning, students questioned the Judge’s commitment to them, the Program, and their education. Few believed they would receive consequences for truancy or for failing to turn in their daily homework and weekly progress sheets. However, as students returned to the monthly Grade Court sessions, they began to hear more about the relevance of education in their daily lives. They began to see that, through hard work, they could be successful and improve their grades.
In July, 1998, Grade Court was honored with an Achievement Award presented to the Eleventh Judicial District Court by the National Court Managers Association.
The Juvenile Grade Court Program is an educational, court monitored problem-solving court designed for Juveniles who are under Court supervision and have struggled in school and/or have received any grade below a “C” on their report card. The purpose of Grade Court is to encourage the youth to attend school daily, maintain appropriate behavior in school, complete all assigned school work and by doing this, the youth will realize the importance of their education. The Grade Court Probation Officer works closely with the youth, parents and school personnel to ensure that the youth’s educational needs are being met, not only through monthly meetings with all parties, but also by attending school meetings and advocating on the youth’s behalf if needed. Grade Court recognizes the importance of the parent’s involvement in the youth’s education, therefore, all parents/guardians are made party respondent. If a parent/guardian refuses to help or participate in the program, they may be sanctioned by the Court.
A “school packet” is given to the Grade Court Participant each week which includes daily assignment sheets and progress reports. The partipant is required to complete daily assignment sheets that are signed off by their teachers and parent as well as a progress report at the end of the week that reflects the participant’s behavior and progress in class. This packet is turned into the Grade Court Office and reviewed by the Grade Court Probation Officer. The officer then provides a report to the Judge each month when the participant and parent appear before the Court. If the youth fails to turn in the paperwork, has unexcused absences, or is refusing to turn in work, they will be subject to sanctions by the Court.
The program is designed in such a way that as the youth improves their grades, school attendance and study habits, they receive incentives for their positive behavior, but also gain freedom, through later curfews, and eventually graduation from the program. When Juveniles graduate from the program they are provided a certificate that will allow them the benefit of a partial scholarship to the local community college once they graduate from High School or obtain their G.E.D.
Currently, District Court Judge Daylene A. Marsh conducts Grade Court each week on Wednesday at 4:00 pm.
FY21 Statistical Highlights
- 30 Juveniles served
- 1 Graduated from the Program
- 1 Program participants completed school/received G.E.D.
Currently, the Program is funded through the Eleventh Judicial District Court. Over the past ten years, a generous benefactor has donated nearly $65,000 to the scholarship fund.
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