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April 30, 2024

Bill to Support Justice-Engaged Youth Passes

DENVER, CO - The House today passed legislation sponsored by Assistant Majority Leader Jennifer Bacon and Representative Tim Hernández that would provide support for K-12 justice-engaged students by establishing a Student Bill of Rights, collecting graduation data, setting standards for credit transfers, and creating a hotline for legal and educational resources. HB24-1216 passed by a vote of 45-18.

“Ensuring that all Colorado youth have access to quality education is a priority, which is why we’re bringing this legislation to better support our justice-engaged youth,” said Assistant Majority Leader Jennifer Bacon, D-Denver. “Our legislation would reduce recidivism by creating a Student Bill of Rights that prioritizes and ensures student success. This bill would allow us to better serve our students by giving them the tools and resources to develop the skills they need to graduate, move on to postsecondary education opportunities, and build a thriving career.”  

“I’ve had students who were involved in the juvenile justice system, and it can be difficult to be successful in school after becoming justice-engaged,” said Rep. Tim Hernández, D-Denver. “This bill has the potential to help change their educational trajectories by connecting students and their families with legal and educational resources, expediting the re-enrollment of students back into school, and ensuring they can participate in extracurricular activities. These student rights are instrumental in developing agency and a sense of self for all young people, and through this bill, we’ll position our young people to forge strong futures for themselves.”

HB24-1216 would establish rights for students who are involved in the juvenile justice system, including the right to alternative solutions for general education, prompt enrollment with a local education provider, appropriate credit for coursework that was completed while being justice-engaged, a graduation plan, education while committed, and participation in gifted and talented and college readiness programs.

The bill requires school districts to publish available resources on their websites and designate a person to serve as a point of contact for justice-engaged students. The bill also encourages courts to delay sentences to commitment to the Division of Youth Services if the student did not commit a physical offense or cause bodily injury, and directs the Department of Education to create a statewide hotline for justice-engaged students to seek legal advice, school options, and other necessary services and support.

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