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Utah Nonprofits Want Parents To Know Their Students' Rights Are Changing

This fall marks the start of the first school year since Utah’s juvenile justice reform was signed into law. This is why eight Utah nonprofits, including Voices for Utah Children and the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, are coming together to make sure parents know how their students’ rights have changed.

Together, they created a two-page pamphlet to help parents understand the impact of the nearly 200-page reform bill.

Anna Thomas, communications manager at the ACLU of Utah, said most of the information published about the reform has been geared toward officials in the school and legal system, but not toward the people who will really be impacted by those changes … students and their parents.

“Honestly, we hope that most adults throughout the state of Utah will never need them, their kids will never get in trouble, but we know that’s not the case,” she said.

However, the ACLU and other organizations recognized that parents needed resources other than those that had been provided.

“Together with our community partners, we thought it was really important that the new changes be communicated in real, human words to people who would be impacted by them,” she said.

The pamphlet includes information on what students can and can’t be sent to court for, the new maximum fines and community service sentences, and other legal changes that will affect students.

According to Thomas, many of the organizations that created the pamphlet were motivated by the same thing. They want to see this reform succeed in more than just its economic goals.

“We are really hoping that with some of these newly institute laws and rules, we will see kids of color, kids who have disabilities and gender nonconforming kids, that we’ll see those kids in particular be treated more fairly under these rules. And if those disparities in discipline change for the better, then we’ve got a real success to celebrate.”

You can download the pamphlet or get a free print copy by contacting Voices for Utah Children or the ACLU of Utah.