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BCC helps Larned offer model juvenile justice service
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Criminal Justice program alignment approved

 

BY SUSAN THACKER

sthacker@gbtribune.com

 

The Kansas Board of Regents is working toward uniform course requirements for similarly named career programs at Kansas colleges. The process is known as "alignment."

The Criminal Justice program alignment was approved by KBOR during its meeting on Dec. 15, 2011. Barton Community College has one year to complete the alignment process. The college plans to implement alignment changes for fall 2012. This was approved Thursday by the BCC Board of Trustees.

The Criminal Justice program alignment allows for two options. Students may earn a Criminal Justice certificate, which will require 56 college credits, or they may earn an Associate of Applied Science degree, which requires 68 credits, including 15 hours of general education courses and at least 12 hours of a training at a law enforcement academy, such as the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center.

 

 

 

Young criminal offenders at the Larned Juvenile Correctional Facility and its alternative school, Westside School, are earning high school diplomas, attending college and earning certificates in marketable job skills, thanks to a partnership with Barton Community College.

When the BCC Board of Trustees met Friday with representatives from Larned, LJCF Superintendent Kyle Rohr told them the partnership, which began in 2007, is "the envy of the state."

He should know. While still affiliated with Larned, Rorh is now affiliated with the other juvenile correctional facility in Kansas, at Topeka. One thing that Larned has and Topeka doesn’t is a grant that pays for the materials for kids to learn welding or manufacturing skills, which are taught by Barton instructors. More recently, state and college employees have worked out a secure way for the young offenders to take online courses in approved areas of instruction.

Joining Rohr to discuss the partnership were Casey Cloninger, principal at Larned’s Westside School, and Wendy Leiker, who is interium superintendent at LJCF now that Rohr is making the transition to Topeka. Westside is part of Fort Larned Unified School District 495, but its students are made up of boys 12-22 years old who are incarcerated at the juvenile facility. Cloninger said the school population stays between 100 and 115 students, each there on average for 15 months. Thirty-five to 50 percent are in special education, and about a third of them graduate.

"We are one of the top alternative schools in the state," Cloninger said, adding BCC deserves some of the credit. Echoing Rohr’s comments, he said the school’s relationship with BCC "is the envy of the state."

The difference is the school’s reentry program, Cloninger said. At the Westside graduation ceremonies, students who society may have given up on are awarded GEDs, high school diplomas and certificates. It’s a moment of pride for the graduates and their parents, he said. With the job skills learned and a resume in their portfolios, some students have left the correctional facility and gone directly to jobs.

For the college to provide services to Larned, "the challenges are numerous," Barton President Dr. Carl Heilman said. For example, when the current grant runs out, another funding source must be found to continue some of the training.

Cloninger discussed some of the challenges in providing online courses, the latest development.

"Our biggest fear is a juvenile contacts a victim. That just cannot happen," he said. So the students only have internal e-mail, access is limited to approved educational programs, and they are supervised the entire time. "We literally sit right behind them."

This discussion came during the BCC Board’s monthly business meeting. During that meeting, trustees also approved hiring three new people: Aaron Avila, head coach women’s soccer; Emily Herrman assistant care provider, part-time; and Arlette Stratton, academic adviser at the Fort Riley area. Also approved was the board retreat, to take place March 8-9 at the Hampton Inn in Junction City, where they will meet with Fort Riley officials. A tour of the fort is also scheduled.