The 2015/16 Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP) class has demonstrated an interest in learning more about alternative sentencing, diversion, and the impact the juvenile justice system has on the development of the nation’s youth. On Wednesday, December 2, 2015, they continued their exploration into these issues when the City of Boston’s Legal Advisor to Boston Public Schools, Alissa Ocasio, came to speak to the group.
Ms. Ocasio discussed the capacities in which she advises Boston Public Schools including school discipline and the BPS Code of Conduct. Originally called the Code of Discipline, the BPS Code of Conduct is a malleable document, one which is reviewed, evaluated, and amended on an ongoing basis. Ocasio gave an overview of the multi-stakeholder team of parents, teachers, administrators, school safety personnel, and others who work to ensure that this living document can respond more effectively to address individual events in the lives of today’s youth.
Throughout the discussion, it was evident that the new Code of Conduct is aimed at empowering school administrators to focus on youth rehabilitation and education, a departure from previous Codes of Conduct, which were framed in the context of discipline and punishment.
The PILP class had several questions for Ms. Ocasio, and it was clear that they took a lot away from their discussion. As PILP-er Erika Reis, also an attorney for the City of Boston, noted, “The presentation was extremely informative and insightful. I have a better understanding of BPS discipline policy and how it has evolved over the years.”
Many thanks to Ms. Ocasio for taking the time to speak with our Public Interest Leaders.