Juvenile Justice Academy
The Texas Legislature established the Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program (JJAEP) in 1995 to provide basic, uninterrupted educational services to students expelled from local districts. By keeping students in school and off the streets, the Bexar County Juvenile Justice Academy (BCJJA) serves both the needs of expelled youth and the interests of the local community.
BCJJA's mission is to provide expelled and adjudicated youth with rigorous academic programs designed to stimulate intellectual, personal, and behavioral development with the ultimate goal of returning students to their home campuses with the necessary tools to achieve academic success and become productive members of society. In order to provide a continuum of services to students, BCJJA offers credit recovery and on-site computer lab access. Visitors to BCJJA in east San Antonio see a clean, quiet, cheerful and safe learning environment. The typical student is between 14 and 17, although students as young as 10 may be referred to BCJJA. For the safety of students and staff, each morning begins with student searches. The school operates between 8:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., 180 days per year, and serves both breakfast and lunch free of charge for students. Each classroom has a degreed teacher with support from a teacher's aide and other staff. Student to teacher ratios is kept low. Attendance is encouraged by the use of both positive reinforcements (contests, small prizes, etc.) and negative consequences such as extended attendance hours and truancy referrals.
Students entering BCJJA usually need more than academic assistance and, as a result, the program has continuously improved to meet those needs. Students participate in substance abuse education and anger management group sessions. BCJJA provides counseling services to every student and is available to each parent/guardian. In school case managers through Communities in Schools provide individual and group support and guidance.
Besides the academic emphasis on English, Math, Social Studies, and Science, the students participate in Physical Education and Computer Lab. The students have opportunities to express themselves productively through art and group activities. Access to GED programs is also available.
The Bexar County Juvenile Board, in cooperation with local school districts, directs the BCJJA. The districts elect an advisory board, which works together with Juvenile Probation and the operational staff. A Bexar County Juvenile Probation Officer is on site working with students that need supervision and assistance. This has truly been a cooperative arrangement, with each party contributing to the quality of BCJJA and supporting the welfare of the students as a primary goal.