Secretary Arne Duncan and U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder have released a Correctional Education Guidance Package to help states and local agencies strengthen the quality of education services provided to America’s estimated 60,000 young people in confinement every day. This guidance package builds on recommendations in the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force report released in May to “reform the juvenile and criminal justice systems to reduce unnecessary interactions for youth and to enforce the rights of incarcerated youth to a quality education.”
The guidance package includes the following components:
- A Dear Colleague Letter on the Civil Rights of Students in Juvenile Justice Residential Facilities clarifying how the federal civil rights laws that prohibit race, color, national origin, sex, religion, and disability discrimination against students in traditional public schools also apply to educational services and supports provided to youth in juvenile justice residential facilities.
- A set of Guiding Principles for Providing High-Quality Education in Juvenile Justice Secure Care Settings outlines five principles and supporting core activities to improve education practices or implement new ones. Authored jointly by the U.S. departments of Education and Justice, the guide is meant to help agencies and facilities serving youth in correctional education provide education services comparable to those available to students in community schools.
- A Dear Colleague Letter on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act for Students with Disabilities in Correctional Facilities from Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services to clarify state and public agency obligations to ensure the provision of a free appropriate public education to eligible students with disabilities in correctional facilities.
- A Dear Colleague Letter on Access to Federal Pell Grants for Students in Juvenile Justice Facilities clarifies the extent to which confined youth may be eligible for the Federal Pell Grant Program and is accompanied by a fact sheet for students and a detailed set of questions and answers for institutions of higher education.
This guidance package is part of a number of notable actions from ED and DOJ, who are working together to help communities reduce the number of youth entering the justice system and to ensure that those who have entered the system return to their communities with dignity, skills, and viable education and employment opportunities. For more information go to www.ed.gov/correctionaled.