xml:space="preserve">

Maryland's schools for juvenile offenders will get additional funding and staff in Gov. Larry Hogan's proposed fiscal year 2017 budget, a measure that comes after revelations that for years the state education department has failed to properly  educate incarcerated youths.

Hogan's proposed $42.3 billion spending plan, unveiled Wednesday, includes increasing the budget of the Juvenile Services Education Program by $2 million and adding 20 additional staff members. Hogan said the additional resources were to "enhance services to vulnerable youth."

Advertisement

The juvenile education program is run by the Maryland State Department of Education and operates schools in 14 juvenile facilities. About 5,000 students -- many of whom have educational deficiencies and require special education services -- are educated in juvenile education programs per year.

A Baltimore Sun investigation in December detailed how students in juvenile programs have long been denied the same educational services as their public school peers even though they are entitled by law to equal services.

Among the most common and crucial findings was that students had not had access to federally mandated special education services, certified teachers, consistent classes, and the courses they needed to graduate.

The department has been pummeled by complaints about inadequate education services from public defenders representing the youths, and the NAACP has filed a federal civil rights complaint on behalf of the students.

State education officials acknowledged that the state department of education has struggled to educate students in the program and vowed to implement reforms. Independent monitors have attributed the program's problems to insufficient staffing and resources.

"We appreciate the governor placing a priority on juvenile services education," said Bill Reinhard, a spokesman for MSDE. "The proposed positions and funding target some of Maryland's most vulnerable students, and invests in their future."

erica.green@baltsun.com

twitter.com/EricaLG

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement