1997 Regular Session
To: Juvenile Justice; Appropriations
By: Representative Blackmon
House Bill 920
AN ACT TO CREATE AN ALTERNATIVE EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM UNDER THE JOINT DIRECTION OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES TO ASSIST YOUTH WHO ARE AT RISK; TO PROVIDE FOR THE TEACHING OF BASIC EDUCATION FUNDAMENTAL SKILLS; TO SPECIFY THE GOALS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE PROGRAM; TO PROVIDE FOR THE CONDUCTING OF COMPONENT EVALUATIONS; TO SPECIFY BASIC AREAS OF LEARNING TO BE ADDRESSED BY THE PROGRAM; TO AUTHORIZE THE ACQUISITION OF PROPERTY; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. It is the intent of the Legislature to successfully provide an alternative educational and training program for juveniles who are habitual truants, drop-outs, expelled for criminal acts, and behavior problems in the public and private schools and home and community environment. It is the further intent of the Legislature to provide support to youth with the greatest socioeconomic challenges.
SECTION 2. In addition to any other programs or other services or requirements provided by law, there is created an alternative educational and training program to be under the joint direction of the State Department of Education and the Department of Human Services to provide youth a new way of life and help build up self-esteem and encourage a positive outlook on life. All of the youth coming through this program will leave with the three (3) basic fundamental skills (reading, writing and counting) at a standardized level. The program shall provide assistance to youth in order to:
(a) Prevent crime;
(b) Save lives;
(c) Give youth a second chance to make a difference in their lives;
(d) Give hope to the state in solving the crime problems in the state; and
(e) Save the state millions of dollars and produce productive taxpaying citizens.
SECTION 3. (1) The overall goal of the program is to provide at-risk youth with structured opportunities in which to develop the awareness and skills necessary for actualization of personal potential and educational success. This goal is supported by six (6) subgoals which incorporate the desired outcome of project activities. The project's subgoals are:
(a) To provide youth with a multifaceted educational support structure which will elevate motivational levels and improve academic skills;
(b) To demonstrate to youth the parallels between success in school and success in life outside of school;
(c) To foster the self-esteem and confidence levels of at-risk youth by assisting them to define their individual skills and talents and providing them with role models that reflect the attitudes of self respect, discipline and responsibility that lead to personal success;
(d) To provide youth with opportunities to interact with positive adult role models who will provide guidance and direction which will, in turn, empower youth to make informed, intelligent choices in their current life situations, as well as in their future endeavors;
(e) To expose youth to a plethora of educational and positive life options and to enlighten them as to how to access these options; and
(f) To provide opportunities for individuals, organizations, corporations and other groups within the community to help youth succeed in school, as well as to enrich their own lives by becoming better citizens of the state, city and local community.
(2) The success of these goals will be achieved through the implementation of eight (8) objectives:
(a) To turn Battlefield Park into an alternative school with the capacity to house two hundred (200) youth Grades 6-12;
(b) To provide a second chance for one hundred (100) females and one hundred (100) males who have demonstrated that they cannot succeed in the public schools and provide an opportunity to reside in a dorm situation away from the negative environment that has kindled their behavioral condition;
(c) To provide educational, job readiness, entrepreneur and college preparatory training components, (these components will be designed to clearly teach young people the reading, writing and counting skills needed for them to succeed);
(d) To facilitate orientations and the training for youth, families and community;
(e) To conduct sessions in self-esteem building, critical thinking skills, personal skills assessment and goal setting;
(f) To facilitate and sponsor educational field trips and outings, workshops and seminars;
(g) To facilitate events, activities and projects to acknowledge and recognize the achievements of youth participants; and
(h) To recruit volunteers and provide orientation trainings.
SECTION 4. The program will conduct component evaluations which will entail surveying program participants to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of client services. The program will be comprised of four (4) basic areas of learning skills:
(a) Education component:
(iv) Recreational activities; and
(v) Graduation to the next phase.
(b) Job training skills:
(i) Challenge course designed to help youth realize the importance of their dreams and expectations;
(ii) Workshops and seminars to develop talent and skills;
(iii) Job interview and resume writing techniques; and
(iv) Graduation to the next phase.
(c) Work training experience:
(i) Allowing youth to work on professional job sites; and
(ii) Graduation to the next phase.
(d) Developed entrepreneur training project:
(i) Teaching youth to start and run their own businesses;
(ii) Teaching management skills;
(iii) Teaching customer service skills;
(iv) Hiring and firing techniques; and
(v) Bookkeeping and accountant skills.
SECTION 5. The Department of Education and the Department of Human Services are authorized to acquire any necessary property to carry out the provisions of this act. The Legislature shall appropriate any necessary funds to carry out the provisions of this act.
SECTION 6. The provisions of this act are supplemental to any other provisions of law.
SECTION 7. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1997.