The Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) offers a wide variety of educational services for incarcerated youth through its Juvenile Court School Program. In a notable first, a graduate of SCOE’s El Centro Jr./Sr. High School has earned an Associate of Arts Degree from Lake Tahoe Community College (LTCC)—while still incarcerated in the Sacramento County Youth Detention Facility (Juvenile Hall). This is a true testament to the student’s hard work and the effectiveness of SCOE services in collaboration with the Sacramento County Probation Department.
The graduate’s academic achievements highlight how multiple partnerships are making a significant difference. The student earned a high school diploma in 2021 through El Centro and took advantage of the opportunity for dual enrollment in community college. Over the last year and a half, the student earned a degree in sociology through LTCC’s Rising Scholars program for incarcerated students.
“This student always kept a positive attitude and became a mentor to his fellow students,” said El Centro Principal Barbara Modlin. “He also took advantage of all that was offered and, in addition to college classes, he enrolled in our culinary and pre-apprenticeship construction programs.”
Not only was the student the first to earn an associate degree while in the Youth Detention Facility, he was also the first student to receive an associate degree through the LTCC Rising Scholars program.
SCOE staff and Probation partners celebrate the student’s accomplishments at a graduation ceremony, joined by Lake Tahoe College President and CEO Jeff De Franco, Director of the Rising Scholars Program Shane Reynolds, Chief of Probation Marlon Yarber, and a large constituency from Lake Tahoe Community College.
The graduate is currently participating in programs offered through the Probation Department’s Valley Oak Youth Academy (VOYA) program and has been accepted by California State University, Sacramento, as a junior. He will be part of the CSUS Project Rebound Program for students who were previously incarcerated and will be provided with housing.
About the Juvenile Court School Program and VOYA
Students receive academic, technical, and elective instruction from SCOE teachers at El Centro Jr./Sr. High School, located inside the Sacramento County Youth Detention Facility (Juvenile Hall).
Senate Bill 823—an effort to reduce incarceration by shifting responsibilities and resources to counties to supervise and deliver services to local youth—led the Sacramento County Probation Department to establish the Valley Oak Youth Academy (VOYA) program within YDF. VOYA provides youth with a vast array of evidence-based services that work to reduce the transfer of youth to the adult criminal justice system, reduce racial and ethnic disparities, and reduce overall confinement in the juvenile justice system.