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Athens City Schools program will educate incarcerated students statewide

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ATHENS,  Ala. (WHNT) - A recently passed proposal in Athens City Schools aims to get a diploma in every hand, specifically targeting youth dealing with the law.

"The purpose of the program is provide educational service to youthful offenders," said Chris Hamilton, chief information officer for Athens City Schools.

It is only in the state budget to provide education to inmates in adult or juveniles facilities, but those held in county jails have no access.

"We are trying to reach those students that are lost in between, awaiting sentences or being moved to another facility," said Hamilton.

With a company called Grade Results, the district plans to build that bridge, virtually.

"There's a live teacher on the other end working with that youthful offender, and then we send instructional assistance actually into the jail," said Hamilton.

The district will receive money from the state education trust fund for every student that enrolls, the same way they would receive funding for a student at one of their schools.

The program reaches statewide, and will be assisted by deputies in different counties. Athens City Schools will manage the program from a facilitation standpoint.

"We will enroll them in our student database, we will enter the grades the teachers give to us," Hamilton explained.

Sheriff's offices will help get the word out to youth, and their families, who then opt in.

The goal is to get youth back in school if they have dropped out, and equip them to earn a diploma. Hamilton explains Grade Results also helps place students who have completed the program.

"So they can finish their sentence, get out and start with a new beginning with a high school diploma, and potentially job placement services."

She adds that around 600 incarcerated youth have already been identified as potential participants. They plan to start seeing students closer to the fall

The hope is that education can keep them from poverty, unemployment, and more crime.