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intensify the needs of the children who remain.
For example, as overall arrest rates have fallen, boys'
rates have fallen faster than girls. Girls now make up a
larger proportion of students behind bars than they did a
decade ago-more than 30 percent. Yet many justice facilities-particularly smaller sites-struggle to provide for
them. A study released last month by the Southern Poverty
Law Center found that in Florida-which has among the
nation's largest populations of young people in prison-
girls in gender-segregated housing in adult prisons were
more likely to be in mental-health units with little or no
access to education facilities.
Beyond basic facility needs, the Girls School educators argued their students need tailored mental-health supports.
All 35 girls living at the facility in late January were judged
delinquents in juvenile court.
"To get here they have to have [committed] a felony-level
offense, but you see a lot more self-directed [offenses]; suicidality, self-harm, depression, promiscuity, drugs," than
crimes directed at others, said Christine Jones, the superintendent of the school.
That's not uncommon nationwide, where as of 2015, girls
were nearly twice as likely as boys to be committed for technical or status offenses, such as truancy or running away
Willow, who turned 18 two months ago, sees it differently.
She attended-and cut class-in five different regular, alternative, and online high schools in her freshman year before dropping out, running away, and spending several years
bouncing among relatives in Wyoming and Idaho. She ended
up at the Girls School when she returned to the state, with
only 3½ high school credits to her name.
"Each of them, I went for maybe a month or two and they
ended up not wanting me anymore," she said of her prior
schools. "I would go to my other schools and instead of encouraging me and saying, 'Hey, you can do this, they would
pull me out and say, like, there's no way you are ever going to
pass this class. And so I'd be like, OK, I guess not.' "
That's Willow on paper. In person she's slight and softspoken, her dyed-black hair growing out brown. She's
known on campus as a songwriter who teaches other girls
to play guitar and played at a recent graduation ceremony.
She finished her high school equivalency coursework in a
few months, passed the ACT college entrance exam with a
respectable 23, and has started taking college courses online.
"The only teachers I've ever developed relationships with
are here," she said. "I was always that kid getting called to
the office and asked, 'why didn't you show up? Why are your
grades so bad? Blah, blah, blah.' And I'd try to explain, I'm
having problems, ... I'm miserable every day I come to school.
Here, if I told a teacher I was miserable, they would find a
way to put me in another class, not just tell me to get over it."
In the last five years, with help from the national professional development network, the school has trained all its
teachers and staff on trauma-informed care and projectbased and blended learning.
Trauma-informed care affects how teachers deal with
both behavior issues and curricular approaches. In an English class earlier this semester, a story about a historic Wild
West gunfight mentioned a woman's rape in passing; in a
school where a majority of students have been abused or assaulted at some point, the section triggered bad memories,
and a good class discussion, said Dixie Cooper, Girls School
principal. "There are some books usually presented at the
high school that we would have read only with a therapist,"
Melissa Johns, a history and horsemanship teacher at
Wyoming Girls School and a former student herself, said she
wishes teachers in districts and correctional facilities could
communicate more about these students beyond their transcripts and discipline files.
"Boy, it would be nice to know these girls' strengths,"
Johns said. "We always hear the bad things, how rotten they
were in class, but sometimes it would be really helpful to
know what these students' strengths are; often I just kind of
stumble onto them."
Dominique's sharp questions and dedication to nursing.
Bailey's enthusiasm for coffee roasting. Willow's songwriting
heart and deep, matter-of-fact drive to pull people out of the
rubble of their lives and into something better.
"These girls surprise me all the time." ■
The Every Student Succeeds Act in some ways changes the school district
equation when it comes to students in juvenile justice facilities.
Under the new law, states that
accept federal Title I money for
disadvantaged students must:
Also, districts now must track the
graduation rates of their students
who enter juvenile justice facilities.
schools can take credit-bearing
That's likely to be an uphill road in
many states. Fewer than 1 in 3 states
use the same accountability system
for education systems in juvenile
justice facilities as they do for
traditional public schools, according
to a 2018 survey by the American
Youth Policy Forum of all 50 states
survey also found that little more
than half of states issue school
report cards or use other reporting
mechanism for corrections schools.
to earn a traditional high school
credits students earn in juvenile
justice facilities can be transferred
when they return to district schools.
-SARAH D. SPARKS
Teaching Vulnerable Students
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - March 7, 2018 - Special Report
Education Week - March 7, 2018
Yzmar Roman, an 11th grader in Arecibo, Puerto Rico
Emotional Needs of Students, Educators Crucial to Puerto Rico’s School Recovery
School Districts Weigh Security After Shooting
Is It Time for a Focus on Civics Education?
Immigrants Thrive In Canadian Schools
News in Brief
DACA Continues for Now, as Does Uncertainty for ‘Dreamers’
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Schools Teach ‘Cyber Hygiene’ to Prevent Internet Attacks
States Confront Range of Hurdles To Swift Action on School Security
Teachers With Gun Training Wary of Trump’s Proposal
Eyes on Pearson as It Moves to Sell Curriculum Business
Outside Supreme Court, Union Supporters, Detractors Face Off
Case Over Union Fees Poised on Knife’s Edge
DeVos Eyeing School Choice As Option for Military Families
Q&A with nadine burke harris: In the Wake of Adversity, a Pediatrician’s Guidance
Olga Acosta Price & Wendy Ellis: Schools Shouldn’t Tackle Trauma Alone
Collected responses: After Parkland, Where Do We Go From Here?
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Gregg Behr: The 2020 Census: Every Child Counts
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