Dramatic changes have taken place at LACOE’s Christa McAuliffe School serving youth detained at the Challenger Memorial Youth Center in Lancaster.

Once the subject of a class action lawsuit, McAuliffe and CMYC are now being hailed as “a model for educational quality and rehabilitative programming for other jurisdictions to emulate.”

Those are the words of counsel representing plaintiffs in the Casey A. lawsuit, filed in 2010 by the American Civil Liberties Union, Public Counsel and the Disability Rights Center alleging denial of educational services at McAuliffe/CMYC.

Following the terms of a settlement agreement reached in 2011, an independent team provided technical support and monitored the school and facility for four years to ensure compliance.

The team’s final report, issued in May 2015, found substantial compliance in all areas and considerable progress and commitment on the part of LACOE and the County Probation Department to making needed improvements.

On June 2, 2015, the U.S. District Court terminated its jurisdiction in the Casey A. matter.

According to the statement of plaintiff’s counsel in the Final Joint Report, LACOE and the Probation Department “… have substantially reformed the education and educational delivery system at the CMYC. They have developed a strong, supportive and collaborative relationship that enables the agencies to provide the educational services and supports to which the youth at Camp Challenger are entitled. This relationship and the parties’ ongoing commitment to improvement and dialogue has resulted in incredible gains in student services, instruction and outcomes …”

Implementation of LACOE’s award-winning Road To Success Academy model of instruction and intervention has been critical to reform.

Reading interventions, strong Career Technical Education offerings, a high school credit recovery program and Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports are among the significant improvements noted in the Final Joint Report.

“I commend our school staff and Probation partners who have worked diligently to transform the programs being offered to our most vulnerable and at-risk youth,” said LACOE Superintendent Arturo Delgado. “It is truly a new day for our agencies and, more importantly, for the young people who depend on us for these vital services.”

Photo: Stakeholders joined for a Sept. 17 celebratory event at Challenger to mark the milestone in the Casey A. settlement. From left: Arturo Delgado, LACOE superintendent; Kim Humphries, McAuliffe School principal; Rita Hadjimanoukian, deputy to Sup. Mike Antonovich; Jerry Powers, chief probation officer, County Probation Dept.; and Katie Braude, member, L.A. County Board of Education.
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