The mission of Dept. of Juvenile Justice Education Programs is to serve at-risk students by improving student attitudes, behaviors, and skills so that they may be successful, both academically and socially, upon return to a school and the community.


Each individual site is managed by a designated lead teacher with the exception of Sabal Palm School, which has a principal. All sites are supported by resource specialists in specific areas, such as regulatory compliance therapy, ESE etc. Education staff are also supported by paraprofessionals and adjudicated youth specialists at Juvenile Justice sites.

The Dept. of Juvenile Justice Education Programs is composed of two program types: At Risk and Juvenile Justice. At Risk serves students who have been identified by the school system as being at risk of being a school dropout. The Juvenile Justice component serves students who have been adjudicated and assigned to Department of Juvenile Justice programs by the courts. Both components work with students who have one or more of the following problems-learning disabilities, teen pregnancy, drug addiction, mental health disorders, school dropout, family crisis, juvenile delinquency, and socialization conduct disorders. These problems have caused most of our students to be two years or more below grade level in academic performance, and at risk of non-completion of requirements for a high school diploma.

Following a review of educational records, an individual academic improvement plan (AIP) is developed for each student, based on test results in conjunction with verbal interviews. Approximately 30-40% of the students at any given time are ESE students. An individual educational plan (IEP) is developed for these students. Students’ needs and deficits are identified upon their entry into a program. Students are given a full battery of diagnostic/prescriptive assessments, including New Century Education System BASIS, KTEA, KSEALS, the TABE for mathematics and language arts, writing evaluation materials, vocational interest surveys, multiple intelligence surveys, and a placement test to determine academic deficiencies and vocational interests. Remedial reading is offered to address needs of students who exhibit significant deficits in reading skills. Approximately 40-45% of the students at any given time are two years or more below grade level. Those who test 2 years below grade level in reading are targeted for corrective reading. Use of the SRA is a major component of most of our corrective reading interactive activities.

Teachers use National Standards and Florida Sunshine State Standards to coordinate and facilitate integrated curriculum and program direction. Students are evaluated using the Florida Comprehensive Aptitude Test (FCAT) student exit tests and computer gains reports indicate students usually have improved, on average, up to two or more grade levels within the length of time in each program. Students 16 years of age or older who desire to obtain a General Equivalency Diploma (GED) are screened to determine potential success. A plan is developed to help them prepare for the GED using computer software and GED study materials. More than 70% of students taking the GED pass on their first try.

Contact Information

Dwight Smith Center
910 Lowry Avenue, Lakeland, FL 33801
Phone: (863) 499-2954 Fax: (863) 284-4248


Name: Title:
Brett Butler Director
Mike Butler Assistant Principal
Corey Miller Assistant Principal
Linda Peterson District Transition Specialist