Access to public education is undeniably important, particularly in the context of the juvenile justice system. It is especially difficult for juvenile wards to receive an adequate education in California, which currently has one of the worst juvenile justice systems in the nation. This Comment examines the current legal responses to California’s state and local juvenile correctional facilities’ frequent violations of the statutory minimum educational standards.
Taxpayer lawsuits that have been filed against California juvenile facilities have resulted in settlements through the use of consent decrees. This Comment argues that consent decrees are an improper solution to the lack of education in juvenile facilities. Consent decrees have numerous problems, including their lack of precedential value and their potential to produce unjust results. Furthermore, consent decrees have left the state of education in California juvenile facilities in a virtually unchanged position. This Comment analyzes several potential alternatives to the use of consent decrees and proposes a solution that involves legislative reform coupled with the use of court-based adjudication as a reactive measure.