In a new initiative, juvenile offenders on probation in Los Angeles are being placed in large, mainstream public schools rather than in the smaller, alternative schools that had become the norm, reports the city’s Times. Officials said the large schools offer access to sports teams, extracurricular clubs, even honors classes. In alternative schools, probation officials say, some teenagers have little or no impetus to change. Many students there are affiliated with gangs, said Felicia Cotton of the L.A. County Probation Department. “When you put those kids in small settings and they’re all alike, it’s hard to get them to set goals for change.”
More than 6,520 teenage offenders serving probation sentences for such crimes as theft, battery and weapons possession have enrolled in traditional high schools–-more than 2,000 more than three years ago. To ease the transition from juvenile facilities, 111 probation officers are stationed at county schools to serve as academic counselors and law enforcers with the power to arrest. In most cases, probation officers have access to students’ transcripts, teachers and counselors. They monitor absences and grades and meet regularly with parents and students.