Orleans Parish, LA

Team Profile Summary

The mission of the Orleans Parish team is to advocate for polices that promote safe, healthy learning environments for youth and families. The team’s is focused on keeping children in quality schools and in providing access to educational services for youth and adults who have been out of school for significant periods of time.

New Orleans, Louisiana is an ideal setting for exploring new approaches to youth interventions for a number of reasons. The city-level YRBSS results for 2005 indicate that New Orleans youth exceed the rest of the U.S. youth population in rates of carrying guns (9.0% vs. 5.4%), being threatened or injured by a weapon at school (15% vs. 8%), participating in a physical fight (46% vs. 36%), and being involved with dating violence (21% vs. 9%).

Team Profile Details

Problem Statement

Many of the current social challenges in New Orleans have resulted from the erosion of family and social support networks in the wake of the flood. Youth are lacking safe places to live and play, environments that are conducive to learning, and positive outlets for social development. The community is interested in building these resources back up as part of re-development efforts.

Policy Recommendations 

Keeping Students in School and Out of Prison

  1. Develop a centralized/uniform expulsion policy among charter and non-charter schools within Recovery School District and New Orleans Public Schools.
  2. Provide training for school resource officers, security guards or school-based police officers.
  3. Implement a one-day bi-annual external review of school expulsions and long-term suspensions.
  4. Eliminate expulsion in primary grades with exception of use or attempted use of deadly weapon.
  5. Offer alternatives to incarceration including school based teen courts, peer mediation programming, and restorative justice programming.
  6. Create greater disincentives to expel or suspend students for more than 1 day.
  7. Make homework services mandatory for all out of school suspensions and expulsions.
  8. Conduct annual assessment of needs of truants and youth who are “disconnected.”

Providing Opportunities for Those Who Have Been Incarcerated

  1. Fund and create reentry programs that meet the needs of the New Orleans metro area.
  2. Provide educational services (at least GED prep) in all correctional facilities.
  3. Decrease the cost of an expungement.
  4. Youth offenders of low-level drug offenses should receive an alternative to incarceration and mandatory drug counseling. Upon completion those records should be destroyed.
  5. Automate the removal of criminal records after 10 years.
  6. Provide free expungement services to the formerly incarcerated through monthly bazaars.

Addressing Mental Health Needs of Youth and Families

  1. Create an automatic mental health referral system for students who receive more than two disciplinary actions per semester (half-year).
  2. Increase schools’ and families’ fiscal capacity to make school-based mental health services available to students.
  3. Increase the number of inpatient beds for adolescents and provide transitional services such as counseling and outpatient therapy.
  4. Ensure that schools dedicate appropriate resources to social-emotional wellness.

Developing Student Centric Policies

  1. Authorize system-wide student satisfaction surveys that incorporate students as researchers.
  2. Develop peer health educators that conduct school climate studies, which include health and mental health assessments, social emotional wellness batteries and in-school needs assessments.
  3. Ensure that per-pupil expenditures follow children to other educational settings.
  4. Ensure that state allocations to supportive services are place at levels that meet the needs that are assessed by students in traditional and non-traditional settings.
  5. Formalize ethnic studies programs in schools that receive public funding.