- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 13, 2015

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) - Harrison County supervisors have voted to support a proposed pilot program to allow some school officials more access to juvenile court information on neglected or abused children.

The issue will now be presented to the Legislature for approval. The supervisors’ vote came Monday.

Youth courts currently prohibited from sharing most information about juveniles without a written order from a judge. Each case is handled individually.

Under the pilot program, school districts could voluntarily enter into agreements with the county youth court system that would allow certain, designated school officials to find out more quickly whether there is a court file on a student.

“It just raises confidentiality a little. And it’s completely voluntary,” Youth Court Judge Margaret Alfonso told The Sun Herald (http://bit.ly/1z5dIVX ).

With Alfonso as the only judge dealing with juvenile files full time and only two others stepping in as needed for the entire county, the manpower needed for dictating, typing and filing such orders simply isn’t available, Alfonso said.

The program would benefit student education and safety, Alfonso said. It would allow school officials, for example, to find out whether there have been abuse complaints before sending a child with a black eye back home on the bus, or to see if there is an issue that might explain a child’s classroom struggles, she said.

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Information from: The Sun Herald, http://www.sunherald.com

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