Deal: Program to help inmates earn high school diplomas

November 12, 2014

Local charter school, Corrections Department to offer courses at Arrendale State Prison

Gov. Nathan Deal announced today that the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) and the Mountain Education Center Charter School (MEC) have partnered together to offer high school courses at Arrendale State Prison in Habersham County, which will help inmates complete their high school educations and receive diplomas.

“With seven out of every 10 Department of Corrections inmates lacking a high school diploma or GED, it is of the utmost importance that while individuals are in our criminal justice system, we do a better job of raising their education and skills to an adequate level,” said Deal. “If an offender has been equipped to enter the workforce upon release, that person will stand a greater chance of avoiding relapse. This program will provide Georgia’s inmates the opportunity to change the direction of their lives.”

Arrendale houses 1,400 female inmates, including approximately 200 under the age of 22. Teachers from the Mountain Education Charter School – a collaboration between Elbert, Fannin, Forsyth, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Pickens, Rabun, Towns, Union and White county school districts – will use online, self-paced instructional programming for those who are identified as suitable candidates for the program. The program is scheduled to begin on Jan. 15, 2015.

“We are excited to enter into this partnership with MEC,” said GDC Assistant Commissioner Dr. L.C. (Buster) Evans. “The MEC nontraditional charter school model is an evidence-based program helping many students who have not been successful in traditional environments complete their high school education. It has been many years, if ever, since an inmate has completed his or her high school diploma while incarcerated in a state correctional facility for adults. I am thrilled that we are partnering with one of Georgia’s most successful charter programs to offer this opportunity.”

“A key part of our mission at the Mountain Education Charter High School is to help students earn a high school diploma,” said Mountain Education Charter High School Superintendent Richard Behrens. “We are looking forward to this partnership with the Georgia Department of Corrections, which will give incarcerated women and men a second chance to complete their studies and receive a Georgia high school diploma.” 

GDC plans to expand the program next year through a partnership with the new Foothills Education Charter School, a collaboration between the Clarke, Jackson and Madison county school districts, and offer courses at Burruss Correctional Training Center in Forsyth and Arrendale State Prison.