LOS ANGELES (Aug. 30, 2016) - In its continuing commitment to serve the most at-risk students, L.A. Unified today unveiled two new academies that will help those leaving juvenile detention facilities make the transition back to school.
Thousands of students return to the District each year from juvenile halls, probation camps and residential placements. They face many challenges such as gang involvement and safety issues, a history of exposure to trauma, instability in school and home, and a high risk of academic failure.
At a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Board President Steve Zimmer addressed students who will benefit from the programs at the Boyle Heights Tech Academy and Central Academy.
“We are committed to ensuring this works,” he said. “You need to know that your teachers want you here every day. Our classrooms are not complete without you. We are driven every day by the dreams in your heart.”
The Boyle Heights Tech Academy, 1600 E. Fourth St., will serve as a diversion program to ensure the successful transition and re-engagement of students. The Los Angeles County Probation Department and city of Los Angeles are partners in the program.
“There is a new choice. There are people who care and want to make sure you graduate and succeed,” said Board Member Mónica García, who represents the district where the academies are located. “We are expecting each of you to graduate and come back and help us help others.”
Central Academy, 134 Witmer St., will provide returning students with an alternative educational program.
“What started as a vision, an idea, is now a dream come true,” Superintendent Michelle King said. “This is what happens when we join together in partnership for a single cause.”
Spearheaded by Helene Cameron, principal of Central High School/Tri-C, and Erika Torres, director of Student Health and Human Services, this project has been in the works since last school year. Both leaders are passionate about removing barriers for high-risk students, allowing them to graduate and thrive.
“This is a special day,” Cameron said. “These sites have opened for our high-risk youth to provide equitable access. We will offer wrap-around supports, such as social emotional services and access to college and career courses.”
Students will meet regularly with their juvenile hall pupil services and attendance counselor to address their individual academic, physical and emotional needs.
“We have placement counselors who specialize in assessing each student who comes to us, identifies the appropriate placement, meets with a team of specialists to discuss his or her needs and links that student to school and community resources,” Torres said.
“It is our responsibility to ensure that all students are enrolled, attending, engaged and on track to graduate,” she said.
Two-thirds of all youth released from county correctional facilities reside within the boundaries of L.A. Unified, making it the school district with the highest population of probation students in the state.
“We are here to fulfill the ultimate goal,” said Local District Central Superintendent Roberto Martinez. “That goal is to graduate – and we want to make it happen for you.”
Contact: Erika Torres (213) 241-3844