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Secretary Duncan, Attorney General Holder Issue Guidance on Educating Incarcerated Youth

December 11, 2014

On December 8, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder issued a press release announcing a Correctional Education Guidance Package aimed at helping states and local agencies strengthen the quality of education services provided to America’s estimated 60,000 young people in confinement every day.

The guidance package which builds on recommendations in the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force report released in May includes:

  1. A set of Guiding Principles for Providing High-Quality Education in Juvenile Justice Secure Care Settings that identifies promising practices for improving education programs in juvenile justice facilities, as well as areas in which Federal legal obligations apply.
  2. A Dear Colleague Letter on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act for Students with Disabilities in Correctional Facilities, clarifying State and public agency obligations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to ensure the provision of a free and appropriate public education to eligible students with disabilities in correctional facilities.
  3. A Dear Colleague Letter on the Civil Rights of Students in Juvenile Justice Residential Facilities clarifying that those juvenile justice residential facilities that receive Federal funding, like all other public schools, must comply with Federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, religion, and disability.
  4. A Dear Colleague Letter on Access to Pell Grants for Students in Juvenile Justice Facilities for campus financial aid professionals clarifying that otherwise eligible youth who are confined in juvenile justice facilities are eligible to receive Federal Pell Grants, subject to the modified cost of attendance statutory provisions that apply to incarcerated students.

“Students in juvenile justice facilities need a world-class education and rigorous coursework to help them successfully transition out of facilities and back into the classroom or the workforce becoming productive members of society,” Duncan said.

"In this great country, all children deserve equal access to a high-quality public education – and this is no less true for children in the juvenile justice system," said Holder. "At the Department of Justice, we are working tirelessly to ensure that every young person who’s involved in the system retains access to the quality education they need to rebuild their lives and reclaim their futures.”

Source:  National School Boards Association