Willie Herenton To Run Juvenile Offender Charter School

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(Memphis) Shelby County Juvenile Courts and former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton are joining forces to create a new charter school.

The charter school will work specifically with students in custody, as an alternative to get them out.

Creators of the school say the goal is to reduce the number of minority teens arrested and put into the juvenile court system.

They acknowledge there's a problem with too many minorities in custody in Memphis.

Minor offenses by juveniles have been cut in half since specialized programs have become available to rehabilitate students.

Juvenile Judge Curtis Person says an entire school for these students is the next step.

The Thurgood Marshall Academy will work specifically with students in the juvenile court system and teach them not only the typical curriculum used in Memphis schools, but also offer specific programs to help the at risk teens build work ethic and make good choices.

"The aspirations will be as high as anywhere. The outcome will be as high as anywhere. They will graduate proud. They will graduate heads up and pants up," said Memphis City Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash.

Former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton could not give many details about how the new school will work or when it will open, but said it will start out grades six through twelve. 

The Thurgood Marshall Academy is one of fourteen charter schools Herenton has gotten approved for Memphis.

Herenton said he was inspired to start the school because of a visit to the juvenile detention center, "When I looked at those boys I saw my son, I saw my grandsons and I saw your sons sitting in that room. And then I had to think where are they going from here?"

The Center for Education Reform has released a report that shows fifteen percent of all new charter schools fail.

They say the main reason for closures is financial reasons and mismanagement.