The vision of the DYS School District is for every student to experience a safe, structured, technologically enhanced learning environment, whereby teachers are proud and committed to promoting good character, citizenship, and life-long learning. Our vision is predicated on the idea that these experiences and beliefs contribute to a seamless transition into society and a better quality of life.
The mission of the DYS School District is entrenched in the belief that all student instruction should be individualized to meet the unique needs of each student. Moreover, each student will be equipped with the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities that will prepare them to function and make positive contributions in today’s rapidly changing society
The Alabama Department of Youth Services School District holds the following beliefs:
- Education is a shared responsibility among students, teachers, guardians, community members, and other stakeholders.
- All students deserve a safe, secure, and orderly environment that is conducive to learning..
- Teacher attitudes and behaviors greatly influence the learning environment for all students.
- Effective teaching acknowledges different learning styles, provides academic rigor, and appropriately meets the needs of all students..
- Every child should be provided with essential skills to become lifelong learners and productive members of an ever-changing society.
- Development of problem-solving and critical thinking skills fosters authentic learning and promotes lifelong learning for students.
The Alabama Department of Youth Services (DYS) is the state agency charged with the responsibility for administering and regulating juvenile justice programs and services. The Executive Director, who reports to an eighteen-member board, administers the DYS. DYS operates institutional programs and community residential and non-residential programs. The DYS School District provides educational services to the youth attending DYS institutional programs and monitors the educational services of the students attending the DYS community residential and non-residential programs.
The Alabama Department of Youth Services was established in 1973 (Section 44-1-1, Code of Alabama) with the mandate to provide a comprehensive and coordinated program for the rehabilitation of delinquent youth throughout the State of Alabama. Prior to the establishment of the Department of Youth Services (DYS), the three institutions for delinquent youth functioned as separate and isolated entities. Act 106 (Section 16-39, Code of Alabama), the Alabama Exceptional Child Act," specifically refers to these separate entities by their former names: Alabama State Training School for Girls, Alabama Boys Industrial School at Mt. Meigs, and Alabama Boys Industrial School at Birmingham. With the creation of the school district in 1983, all educational programs within Youth Services were placed under the supervision of the district.
The Alabama Department of Youth Services School District serves students in all Department of Youth Services (DYS) institutional facilities. System wide planning is essential to upgrading the entire educational effort for the incarcerated delinquent youth in the DYS care and custody.
Although each of the Youth Services school programs differs to some extent, programs generally fall into two categories, long term and short term. The program at the Chalkville campus provides services for girls only.
All instruction in DYS is individualized. Prescriptions are used in short-term programs. Long-term programs are individualized, either through the Educational Service Plan for "normal" students or the Individualized Education Program (IEP) for special education students. These individual plans are written in behavioral terms and based on a variety of factors: age, academic achievement, grade placement, related needs, and transitional goals. In addition to academic instruction, students ages 16 and above receive vocational training as part of their educational program.
For long term students in grades nine and above who are functioning academically at or near expected grade level, an attempt is made by the counselor to verify needed coursework to ensure that appropriate Carnegie units are earned toward graduation. Although DYS schools may graduate students who meet the SDE standards in relation to earned Carnegie units and Alabama High School Graduation Exam, the sending school is encouraged to award the high school diploma. However, over the past two years, Youth Services has graduated a number of long-term students. For students who are approaching age 16 or are already ages 16 and above, but have adequate basic skills and do not plan to return to school, preparation for the General Education Development (GED) test is provided; through a waiver granted by the SDE, DYS students age 16 and above may take the GED test. All students are encouraged to continue their education upon release from DYS; students who complete their formal education within DYS are encouraged to continue their education at a postsecondary institution upon release.
It is the philosophy of Youth Services to take the student where s/he functions academically and assist that student in mastering as many educational skills as possible while in DYS. For many students, DYS will be the last opportunity for formal education. Youth Services schools are considered to be high schools, grades 7 – 12 by the SDE. However, because of the uniqueness of the population, there is more flexibility in instruction than in public schools for students with grade placements below grade 9, students in need of remediation and special education students. As noted above, instruction is individualized. Although a variety of content areas is used, based on the most recent analysis of data, the general focus of education for this group of students is two-pronged: (1) the development of functional literacy and (2) the development of skills to continue formal education.
The focus of the educational programs is to provide students with improved academic, life, and job readiness skills to enable them to return to the community better prepared to be law-abiding citizens. All programs within Youth Services focus on preparing youth to return to the community as law-abiding citizens. Both state and federal funds are expended for this purpose.