Source: San Diego County Grand Jury
May 10, 2014 (San Diego)--Recent changes in how at-risk youngsters in custody in San Diego County’s six juvenile detention facilities are educated violates state law, according to a report released May 8th by the San Diego County Grand Jury. The facilities are operated by the San Diego County Probation Department, with the educational component provided by the San Diego County Office of Education.
Instead of the seamless year-round schooling required by the law, the school year is now broken into a regular session, and several “intersessions” during the summer and other vacation periods. In most cases, the intersessions are taught by substitute teachers who often lack training and experience in teaching in the juvenile justice system.
Intersessions also disrupt the continuity of instruction established during the regular session and can lead to disciplinary problems, according to the Grand Jury. The Grand Jury recommends that intersessions be abandoned, and regular teachers be utilized year round.
The Grand Jury also looked at the programs at San Pasqual Academy, Monarch School, Phoenix House Academy, and Second Chance Facility in an effort to determine whether specialized community schools utilize educational models that might be appropriate for the detention facility schools.
San Pasqual Academy, a residential school for foster children with a strong record of academic success, currently has space available for approximately 70 additional students at no significant increase in costs for the County. The Grand Jury views this as an opportunity to place at-risk youngsters coming out of the juvenile justice system in the stable and supportive environment at San Pasqual Academy.
The Grand Jury report also recommends updating the educational materials used in the juvenile detention facilities.