Juvenile justice alternative education programs in Texas a phenomenological inquiry
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DAEPs represent a form of the exclusionary discipline practices used by school districts with zero tolerance policies to remove identified students from home campuses, despite evidence showing the ineffectiveness of such policies. Educational leaders believe alternative education offers an effective method to reduce negative student behaviors in schools. DAEPs are aimed at correcting or managing the behavior of disruptive students. More concerning, students who have been processed through the court system as well as through the disciplinary processes of the school district receive assignments in higher security DAEPs known as Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Programs (JJAEP). An overview of the JJAEP phenomenon’s interventions and transition support programs for students who return to the home school is needed. The purpose of this study was to explore the phenomenon of the JJAEP in Texas from the perspectives of the educational leaders responsible for the instruction within these schools and the transitions of students returning to their home campuses. The inquiry provided a phenomenological understanding of the characteristics of JJAEPS that were expected to offer students individualized academic and behavior supports. To conduct this study, five educational leaders who oversaw one of the 26 JJAEPs in Texas were interviewed in one-on-one format about their lived experiences with this educational phenomenon. The findings produced four themes: (a) Theme 1: JJAEP curriculum and instruction follow district guidelines; (b) Theme 2: JJAEPs focus on social-emotional interventions with students; (c) Theme 3: Minimal implementation opportunities exist to support college, career, and military readiness (CCMR) at a JJAEP; (d) Theme 4: Comprehensive transition planning is undeveloped at a JJAEP. Chapter 5 contains the discussion, implications, and recommendations for future research.