Florida Virtual School selected as operator for juvenile detention education program

by | Oct 23, 2023

  • Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) has chosen Florida Virtual School (FLVS) to run the Florida Scholars Academy (FSA), an initiative focused on in-person education for incarcerated youths.
  • The program is designed to offer incarcerated students the chance to obtain a high school or equivalency diploma.
  • The FSA was launched after Governor Ron DeSantis approved Senate Bill 7104, positioning it as a unique educational model in the U.S.

Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) announced on Monday that it selected Florida Virtual School (FLVS) as the operating service provider for the Florida Scholars Academy (FSA), a system providing in-person instruction for incarcerated youths.

FLVS, an internet-based public high school established in 1997 by the state legislature, will lead the program’s structure, which aims to provide incarcerated students with an opportunity to earn a high school diploma or equivalency diploma. Participants will also be able to enroll in a degree program at a state college or earn an industry-recognized credential.

“It’s no secret that prioritizing a high-quality education to students within Florida’s system of juvenile justice reduces recidivism, puts students on their own career path, and helps them become productive citizens,” said DJJ Secretary Dr. Eric Hall. “I am excited to work hand-in-hand with the team at Florida Virtual School and the Florida Scholars Academy’s Board of Trustees to turn our vision into a reality.”

The FSA was formed earlier this year following Gov. Ron DeSantis’ approval of Senate Bill 7104 during the most recent Legislative Session. Once operational next July, the education model will serve as the only one of its kind in the nation.

The ratified legislation also required the establishment of a five-member Board of Trustees to manage the academy’s daily operations. In August, DeSantis appointed four individuals — Marva Johnson, Dan McGrew, Christopher Moya, and Robert “Bob” Ward — to serve as trustees alongside DJJ Secretary Eric Hall.

The trustees are required to meet at least four times each year and are responsible for the academy’s financial and academic development. Each board member will serve for a term of four years.

“The Florida Scholars Academy is going to create powerful change for youth in the DJJ’s residential programs,” said Rep. Berny Jacques, who filed the House companion legislation in February. “It will significantly expand the options these students have as they venture into the workforce and in their pursuit of higher education.”

In Fiscal Year 2021-2022, 2,388 youths were served across 44 DJJ residential commitment programs. Prior to the passage of SB 7014, educational services were provided by the local school district where the residential program was located.


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