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Bryant schools concerned with teaching youths in juvenile facility

Who should teach students in state run juvenile facilities? Right now a private contractor does it, but one state representative wants local districts to have a much more active role.
LITTLE ROCK, AR - Who should teach students in state run juvenile facilities? Right now a private contractor does it, but one state representative wants local districts to have a much more active role.

The Division of Youth Services facility in Alexander holds over 100 juveniles. It falls within the Bryant School District, but a private company teaches and provides security here.

State representative Johnnie Roebuck (D-Arkadelphia) thinks there's a better way

"We want the school district to be in charge,” Roebuck says. “We want them to be interested in that child's education. What has happened over time is that when these students are put into a DYS center, the school district thinks, 'well the student is gone."

But Bryant superintendent Randy Rutherford told the joint committee on children & youth on Tuesday there are big concerns.

“We just feel it's a little unfair that we would have to take on 100 students in the environment that's there that would create some severe challenges for us," Rutherford says.

The biggest he says is that most students at the Alexander facility are academically behind. And Rutherford admits more failing students could hurt Bryant schools image.

“We would go at it the best that we could and do the best we could,” Rutherford says. “Obviously it could tarnish our reputation as far as our education."

But Rutherford told committee members he and other superintendents will keep working on education solutions for every student.

Tuesday is the final opportunity to present testimony about the potential impact local districts taking control could have.

A report of findings and recommendations is expected in the next 30 days.
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