Educational Services Division
Student Support Services: Law Related Education and Prevention Programs
Law related education and prevention programs provide students from all districts and schools throughout Santa Cruz County with an opportunity to engage in law and justice education, community dynamics, leadership, critical thinking, public speaking skills and positive youth development. We strive to educate youth throughout the county about juvenile justice and law, while also reducing the incidence of juvenile delinquency.
To develop rights and responsibilities for youth as engaged citizens
To increase law related education projects through continual partnerships, application for grants and other resources, and establishment of creative funding avenues.
SCCOE's Superintendent's Vision and Goals
The law related education programs are in alignment with the SCCOE's Superintendent's Vision and Goals. They promote "innovative colaboration with districts, non-governmental organizations and public agencies to create safe and healthy school environments" (Goal 3.5). Mock Trial in particular is a strong platform for encouraging "arts activities, performances and recognition of Santa Cruz County's youth" (Goal 3.8). Together, the law related education programs provide increased education opportunities for students of diverse backgrounds, while simultaneously increasing the safety, responsibility, and citizenship of our students, communities, and schools.
The Santa Cruz County Office of Education, Student Support Services Department, Law Related Education and Prevention Programs, provides students throughout the county with opportunities to engage in law and justice education. Mock Trial is coordinated by Law Related Education Programs in collaboration with the Santa Cruz County Bar Association, Superior Court of California Santa Cruz, and the Santa Cruz Trial Lawyers Association. This February will mark the 23rd Annual Santa Cruz County Mock Trial.
The Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) manages the California Mock Trial Competition for all 36 participating counties. CRF introduced the program to other counties throughout the state in 1980 after establishing a large following in Los Angeles County. Each year, CRF creates and produces a new set of Mock Trial materials. The materials include a hypothetical criminal case, summaries of case law, witness statements, official exhibits, simplified rules of evidence, lesson plans on the central issues in the case, and competition rules and guidelines.
Nearly 8,000 students throughout the state of California participate in Mock Trial. Through performance-based education these students further their knowledge of our judicial system, history, content and conduct of our legal system, analytical abilities, communication skills, and team cooperation. Mock Trial teams receive guidance in courtroom procedures and trial preparation from volunteer attorney coaches.
Locally, over 20 attorneys volunteer as competition scorers and are given specific scoring criteria. The students are scored on team sportsmanship, presentation skills, analytic ability, and team cooperation. Approximately 10 local judges and commissioners volunteer to preside over the competition; making decisions regarding the running of the trial, rulings on pretrial arguments, competition violations, and announcing the verdict.
The Santa Cruz Mock Trial competition proceeds over the course of three days. The 2012 competition took place at the Santa Cruz County Courthouse on February 1st, February 8th, and February 15th. Throughout the first two dates each team participated in two scored rounds. On the third date, the top four highest scored teams competed in the semi-finals; the 2012 top two teams were Santa Cruz and Scotts Valley High Schools. Santa Cruz High advanced to state finals, competing in the competition on March 23-25th in Sacramento. Forty-four states, U.S. territories, and South Korea participate in the two-day national competition. The 2012 national competition was held in Albuquerque New Mexico May 4-7th.
The 2012 participating Mock Trial teams were: Aptos High, Harbor High - Team A and Team B, Santa Cruz High, Scotts Valley High, Soquel High, St. Francis High, and Watsonville High. This is the first year one school, Harbor High, has had enough student participants to form two full teams.
Teen Peer Court
Teen Peer Court 2012-2013 Schedule
Teen Peer Court is a program run by teens for teens. The objective of the Teen Peer Court program is to interrupt the developing pattern of criminal behavior in referred juveniles by promoting self-esteem, motivation for self-improvement, forming a healthy attitude toward authority, and increasing education.
Teen offenders between the ages of 13 and 17 who have committed a misdemeanor crime have their cases heard by a jury of their peers. Additional peers perform the roles of prosecuting and defense attorneys, bailiff, clerk and jury. A local volunteer judge is the only adult directly involved in the Court proceedings. The offenders assume responsibility for their behavior and accept the consequences of their actions through community service work, serving as future Teen Peer Court jury members, and fulfilling any other creative sentence sanctioned by their TPC jury.
Cases heard in Teen Peer Court are crimes such as shoplifting, possession of alcohol, criminal mischief, battery, and many other misdemeanor offenses. Sources of referral are law enforcement, Juvenile Probation, and the District Attorney's Office. Once the teen offender completes the sentence they have received from the teen jury, the referring agency is notified and the offender's record is erased. If the offender does not complete their sentence, rejects the jury sentence, or re-offends, then their case is returned to the appropriate referral source for prosecution. However, TPC has a very low recidivism rate of 5-6%, as compared to the traditional juvenile probation recidivism rate of 30%.
Teen Peer Court provides an educational experience for the offender and teen volunteers. The teens are given "hands-on" experience with legal processes, become familiar with the court system, and have an opportunity to learn about various career options the court system has to offer. The offenders also learn about various career opportunities through the community service they perform. Teen Peer Court provides young people with a unique challenge and opportunity to demonstrate their capacity for self-government and responsible citizenship.
In addition, the SCCOE's Teen Peer Court is an active member of the National Association of Youth Courts. TPC Director Jo Ann Allen is the co-chair of the National Research and Data Committee. The purpose of this committee is to expand funding and legislative support of Youth Courts throughout the country by creating national standards for program evaluation that will provide empirical evidence as to the successful outcomes of Youth Courts from both quantitative and qualitative data analysis.
Download the Teen Peer Court 2011/2012 schedule.
Read an article published in the San Jose Mercury News on December 5, 2011, on Teen Peer Court.
Check out the Teen Peer Court page on Facebook.
Click here for the National Association of Youth Courts website.
Real DUI Court in Schools
This Santa Cruz Sentinel article about teens and drinking mentions the Real DUI Court in Schools program. (Published February 4, 2013.)
Read about a Real DUI Court in Schools assembly at Scotts Valley High.
Read an article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel aboutReal DUI Court in Schools.
It is reported that last year four million 16-20 year olds drove while under the influence of either alcohol or illicit drugs in the U.S. This makes motor vehicle crashes the leading cause of death among young people in that age group. Altering the attitudes of teen drivers is fundamental to changing their behavior. To achieve this objective, a robust, multifaceted approach to solving the problem of underage drinking and driving is required.
California judicial officers currently participating in the Real DUI Court in Schools program believe this to be a successful model for DUI prevention.
The premise of the Real DUI Court in Schools program is to conduct live driving under the influence (DUI) sentencing hearings in high schools to provide students with the opportunity to see up close the consequences of a DUI offense to individual drivers, crash victims, and local communities.
The Santa Cruz County Office of Education in partnership with Santa Cruz County Superior Courts, Public Defenders Office, and District Attorneys Office bring Real DUI Court in Schools assemblies to interested Santa Cruz County High Schools. The Real DUI Court in Schools assembly provides high school students with: an opportunity to witness the consequences of a real adult DUI sentencing hearing, listen to testimonial speakers, have a question/ answer period about the hearing process with speakers and judicial staff, and learn about underage drinking.
The Santa Cruz County Office of Education, Law-related and Prevention Education programs partners with the Santa Cruz Superior Court, Public Defender’s Office, and District Attorney’s Office to bring Real DUI Court in Schools assemblies to local high schools. In 2007, the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) funded the Santa Cruz County Office of Education, and other select agencies, to pilot the Real DUI Court in Schools program. Although direct funding ended in June 2009, the collaborative finds the program highly effective and of great importance and therefore continues to offer assemblies to high schools throughout the county.
Real DUI Court in Schools brings real cases before students to emphasize the short- and long- term consequences and realities of driving under the influence. The assembly provides high school students with an opportunity to: witness the consequences of an adult DUI sentencing hearing, hear from a testimonial speaker, dialogue with judicial staff, defendants, and speakers, and view the WASTED: The Truth About Underage Drinking in Santa Cruz County video which discusses the public health issues of binge drinking in our community. Furthermore, the County Office of Education partners with County Drug and Alcohol, Friday Night Live Program, to provide a resource table and lunch time prevention activities for students after the presentation. One activity asks student to take a pledge to not drink and drive.
Reduction of Alcohol Abuse Program (RAAP)
The Santa Cruz County Office of Education (SCCOE) in partnership with north Santa Cruz county school districts, community organizations, and contracted agencies, concluded our three-year Federal Grant to Reduce Alcohol Abuse. The program provided funding for counselors to administer both Project SUCCESS and The 7 Challenges programs into north county high schools to address the serious problem of alcohol abuse by youth. RAAP programs directly served 9th-12th graders in Santa Cruz City School District, San Lorenzo Valley High School District, Scotts Valley School District, and several alternative school sites administered through the Santa Cruz County Office of Education.
The goal of RAAP was to reduce youth alcohol abuse by utilizing effective prevention and early intervention programs within the secondary schools of participating districts. To achieve this goal, SCCOE and its partners implemented the SAMHSA model programs Project SUCCESS and The 7 Challenges, which are designed to promote the success of students academically and socially through preventing and reducing alcohol, drug, and tobacco use, increasing the use of positive and healthy tools for coping with stress, and strengthening support systems for students both on and off campus. There are multiple components in place to achieve these goals including classroom lessons, school wide events, and individual and group counseling. Furthermore, parent meetings, community events, and workshops are also a part of the grant program.
Featured project goals completed:
The Santa Cruz Reduction of Alcohol Abuse Program (RAAP) fully implemented Project SUCCESS and The 7 Challenges programs into the partnering schools to serve the current needs of students to best prevent underage alcohol abuse. Grant highlights include:
- Fully implementing all aspects of Project SUCCESS and The 7 Challenges;
- Presenting the Prevention Education Series to hundreds of students;
- Providing indicated and selective services to hundreds of students through individual assessments, Project SUCCESS Intervention Groups, family counseling and parent meetings as needed;
- The 7 Challenges groups are being conducted as Project SUCCESS Intervention groups and alternative to suspension groups;
- Project SUCCESS Universal activities are conducted on all school sites in partnership with community agencies and coalitions. Real DUI Court in Schools and Distracted Driving assemblies, Casey’s pledge, Youth and Parent Committed programs, Red Ribbon Week, to name a few examples;
- The Project SUCCESS counselors have directly served over 100 parents and indirectly, thousands. Counselors do parent presentations, and schools and districts publish monthly newsletter articles on alcohol prevention. Two steering committees (the Together for Youth Collaborative and Reduction of Alcohol Abuse Program steering committee) meet quarterly with parents to discuss ways to improve school, parent, and community collaboration to prevent underage alcohol abuse, as well as to work with parents to better support them in communicating with their children;
- Together For Youth is a community-wide collaborative that connects the community, retailers, parents, youth and environment to change the community norm of accepting underage alcohol use. Direct services include decoy operations, Responsible Alcohol Merchant Awards (RAMA), reduction of suspension substance abuse policies, co-curricular extra curricular policies, parent committed campaign and family policy brochure.
Together For Youth – Project CURB
The County Office of Education, Reduction of Alcohol Abuse (RAAP) program partners with the Together For Youth. Together For Youth is a community-wide collaborative that connects the community, retailers, parents, youth and environment to change the community norm of accepting underage alcohol use. Such actions include: decoy operations, Social Host Ordinance, Responsible Alcohol Merchant Awards (RAMA), reduction of suspension substance abuse policies, co-curricular extra curricular policies, parent committed campaign and family policy brochure. View the Together for Youth website.