'Last week, the school system in Riverside County, California, was hit with a major lawsuit from multiple legal advocacy organizations over its policy of placing misbehaving and poorly performing students on probation, allegedly funneling them into the “school-to-prison pipeline.”
The ACLU, the ACLU of Southern California, the ACLU of Northern California, the ACLU of San Diego, the National Center for Youth Law, and Sheppard Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP, filed a lawsuit to fight what they call “fundamentally unfair processes,” according to a press release from the ACLU.
Though students swept up in the program have committed no crimes, the ACLU says the Youth Accountability Team (YAT) Program, an arm of the probation department, targets students for “school discipline problems and poor academics,” deeming them “at-risk” and effectively treating them like criminals. Other behaviors they seek out in youth include “defiance” and “substance abuse.” The program is ultimately a reflection of America’s growing police state, as the YAT website notes that their “teams” are “located throughout the county and are a collaborative effort between the Probation Department, local law enforcement agencies, District Attorney’s Office, counseling agencies, and various school districts in the County.”
“As it stands, children can be and are being placed on six-month terms of probation without procedural safeguards,” according to the ACLU. “Children and their families are not provided with specific information about the offense they are accused of committing, the terms of YAT probation, the possible consequences of going to court, or advisement of their legal rights.”'
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