More than 1,200 juveniles were arrested for crimes ranging from shoplifting to violent crimes in the last 12 months. More than half of those were arrested for felonies, including 365 kids who attend a Leon County school.
Depending on the case, those tried as juveniles head to the districts Second Chance School, and it’s only been in the past two years that elementary students are showing up. School leaders say the enrollment changes daily, and in within the next two weeks, more than 12 students will be enrolled across the grade levels.
More than 100 kids attend Leon County's Second Chance School. They look like your average student, but most of them are facing felony charges for things such as arson, sexual battery, robbery, drugs assault and battery.
One of the schools offenders include an 11-year-old who sexually battered a four-year- old by penetration, a 15-year-oldwho set fire to the family garage as a distraction so he could steal the car, a ten-year-old who sexually battered a four-year-old and a 12-year-old who beat up an eight-year-old for a dollar.
Despite their criminal behavior, the district is still obligated to provide these kids with an education.
"The secret is having a structure if child breaks rule immediate consequences as quickly as we can to address the issue," says Tom Dunn, principal of the school.
That doesn't necessarily mean suspension. Second Chance educators say having a degree of tolerance and patience helps them help the students.
Once the kids are allowed back into school their progress is monitored. Many of them said they enjoy going to Second Chance School and that their grades have actually improved since enrolling.
Usually the kids are expelled from their home school for the remainder of the school year, so depending on the time of the offense they could be there for two weeks to nine months.