Arizona Judicial Branch

AZ JJSD Detention Education

Detention Education Introduction

The fundamental purpose of juvenile detention education in Arizona is to provide an education program for all school-age youth detained in the respective county juvenile detention facilities that is compatible with public school education goals and requirements pursuant to Arizona Revised Statute §15-913. The statute assigns responsibility for juvenile detention education to the county, and stipulates that the County School Superintendent and the Presiding Juvenile Court Judge shall agree on the method of delivery of the education program in the juvenile detention facilities. The Arizona Supreme Court, Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) acts on behalf of these parties to provide multi-jurisdictional administrative and fiscal coordination, and oversight, supported by a formal Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) to define each party’s responsibility in developing detention education programs and using funds appropriately. This coordinated statewide approach serves to ensure a consistent quality educational experience throughout the state as well as increased funding for all programs via a consolidated application process to garner the benefits of an economy of scale for detention education programs, thus benefiting all detained youth.

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Detention Education History

Juvenile Detention Education Programs have been operating with state financial support in Arizona since 1994, and are county specific under the jurisdiction of the County School Superintendent and the Presiding Juvenile Court Judge pursuant to A.R.S. §15-913. In 1994, the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) requested the AOC to apply for federal funds on behalf of the counties to supplement the state education funds. The AOC voluntarily provides fiscal and administrative coordination and oversight for detention education programs in all of the fifteen counties. Maricopa County operates two juvenile detention facilities. Juveniles from two counties (Greenlee and La Paz) are transported to other jurisdictions (Graham and Yuma, respectively) when the Court determines the need for secure custody. Three counties (Coconino, Maricopa, and Pima) implement detention education programs through an accommodation school model.

The AOC applies to the ADE for various state and federal funds, acting as fiscal pass-through agent on behalf of the counties, and executes an IGA for distribution of funds and specifying responsibilities with the County School Superintendent and the Presiding Juvenile Court Judge. The JJSD Correctional Education Specialist is charged with the coordination and oversight of all detention education programs throughout the state, and works closely with the County School Superintendents, Juvenile Court Judges, Detention Administrators, and Educational staff to ensure compliance with federal and state statutes, Arizona Juvenile Detention Standards, and AdvancED Standards.

The Juvenile Detention Education Programs provide 12 month learning opportunities for youth in detention facilities with a minimum threshold of 225 days of instruction of at least 4 hours (240 minutes) per day, and are implemented in accordance with state and federal statutes as well as the juvenile detention standards and AdvancED standards. The statewide average length of stay in the detention facilities ranges from an average of 12-15 days to 30 plus days, although contractual agreements executed by some counties allow for longer lengths of stay which also impact the delivery of educational services.

All classroom teachers must be certified by the ADE, with special education endorsement preferred. Many hold advanced graduate degrees in a specialized field. They are supported by a skilled staff of para-professionals and support staff. The detention education staff is recruited, hired, supervised, and evaluated by the County Superintendent’s Office or Juvenile Court administration in those counties in which the juvenile court operates the educational program through an agreement with the County School Superintendent. Each county detention education program develops an annual calendar and works with the AOC staff to develop reporting mechanisms that are mutually acceptable to capture necessary data mandated by the ADE. Educational instruction is provided through independent and teacher-guided programs that utilize both individualized computer curricula and classroom instruction that are aligned with Arizona State Standards.

Academic services include educational/diagnostic screening, educational planning, and program structure that closely approximates the educational services that are available through the public school system, educational assessments, and educational record processing. Most programs have small libraries available as well as classrooms of varying sizes.

Special needs students, when identified, receive timely and appropriate services in accordance with their valid Individualized Education Program (IEP) objectives.

In support and recognition of the value of continuing education, in addition to providing multi-jurisdictional coordination for juvenile detention education, the Arizona Supreme Court supports a series of LEARN (Literacy, Education and Resource Network) Centers across the state, both in secure care and in community settings, that allow students to continue their educational development using a common Individual Learning System (ILS). The Arizona Supreme Court also provides support for a certified General Educational Development (GED) Preparation & Testing Program, and as such has agreements with many local agencies to provide GED instructional and testing services for youth involved in the justice system.

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Detention Education Funding

The Juvenile Detention Education Program in Arizona is very unique in that Arizona is one of a few states that have statewide financial support for detention education. County Equalization Funds (CEF) are stipulated in statute for use by county Juvenile Detention Education Programs and are allocated by a formula developed by the Arizona Legislature. This formula includes annual census data, local effort, and poverty level of a particular jurisdiction. CEF are “lag year” funds in that county jurisdictions are reimbursed for services provided in the previous fiscal year. The formula reimburses counties for each child detained after the first 48 hours of confinement. CEF funds the majority of the detention education budget for each county.

Additional funding options are available through statewide and federal education grant programs, since the detention education programs are considered a Public Education Agency (PEA). The Court, in a compact with the ADE, has agreed to act as the fiscal pass-through agent to the counties and provide administrative support, statewide data reporting, staff training and some fiscal support as well as the coordination of all federal education grant programs. Although the county equalization funds pass directly from the State Treasurer’s Office to the County Treasurer’s Office, the AOC monitors the CEF to ensure that the federal funds for which the AOC acts as fiscal pass-through agent are used solely to supplement not supplant state and local funding for detention education programs pursuant to federal regulations. 

Total funding for detention education programs includes county equalization funds as well as the state and federal education grant funds provided for supplemental purposes. The AOC administers the following title funds:


    • Title I, N & D, Part D
    • Title II-A (Includes Class Size Reduction)
    • Title VIB, IDEA Basic
    • Secure Care Education

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