Bill Aimed At Helping Juvenile Offenders Get An Education Heads To House Floor

Mar 6, 2014

A bill aimed at making sure locked-up juveniles get the education tools they need is heading to the House floor, after it passed unanimously at its last committee stop in the House Education Committee Thursday.

Fernandina Beach Republican Representative Janet Adkins says on visits to Florida Department of Juvenile Justice detention facilities, she’s seen students many years behind where they should be academically.

“You’ve got 14-,15-year old students taking 6th grade material. This has historically not been a focus of our school boards, and let’s face it, with the accountability system, that’s in place, they’re more focused on the other students. This very unique group of students are at very great risk,” said Adkins.

The aim of the bill is to require the state Department of Education to work with DJJ to ensure school districts and juvenile justice education providers develop educational transition plans for these students as they re-enter society. Adkins says the alternative is far worse.

“If we don’t catch these kids now, and give them the education that they need, while they’re in a DJJ facility, then they’ll probably end up in prison a good many years,” added Adkins.

Last year, Adkins’ bill made it to the House floor, but died in the Senate. Meanwhile, this year’s Senate companion will have its first hearing Tuesday.

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