DJJ Education Programs

Dwight Smith Center
910 Lowry Ave.
Lakeland, FL 33801
Office: (863) 499-2954
Fax: (863) 284-4248


The mission of the Department of Juvenile Justice and Children and Family Services sites is to develop attitudes, behaviors, and skills so that students may be successful, both academically and socially, upon return to a school and the community.

The mission is based on the vision that all students can become self-directed, caring, productive citizens and lifelong leaders, and prepared to be successful in the technologically and culturally changing world.

Polk County has the largest number of Department of Juvenile Justice students in the state. Most of these students that are assigned to the programs come from outside of Polk County. Each education program is audited annually by the Juvenile Justice Educational Enhancement Program (JJEEP). A review of the JJEEP 2003 Quality Assurance Report indicated that of the nine school districts with the largest number of DJJ providers, Polk received the highest scores in direct service facilities and was second highest in overall scores that include direct and contracted services. Education programs at all of the Department of Juvenile Justice and Children and Family Services sites are provided year round by the Polk County School Board (PCSB).

The PCSB provides education at each site through cooperative agreements with the Department of Juvenile Justice or Children and Family Services and each facility operator. As of 2003, all sites under the direction of the Alternative Education Department were in compliance with state standards.

The curriculum offered at each site includes high school courses in language arts, math, social studies, and science. Most sites offer vocational training in one or more of the following areas: agriculture, aquaculture farming, business, computer repair, building maintenance, and digital printing. All courses, as well as guidance counseling, ESOL and ESE services, are provided by certified teachers. Psychological counseling and drug awareness services are offerd by supplemental staff. With the exception of Avon Park Youth Academy, Central Florida Marine Institute, and PACE Center for Girls, which are operated via contracted instructional programs, all other DJJ sites provide instruction with district PCSB teachers/staff.

Avon Park Youth Academy

Administrator: Dr. Zeuli
242 South Boulevard
Avon Park, FL 33825
Phone: (863) 452-3815

The program is a residential, educational and treatment program designed to serve Level 6 juvenile offenders placed by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. The facility has 200 beds. All youth assigned to the program are 16 to 19 years of age and stay for an average of 9 months. Home Builders Institute operates as a school within a school to provide vocational instruction for the construction trades. The facility is operated by Securicor. Educational services are provided via the contractual agreement with the PCSB.

Bartow Youth Academy

Assistant Principal: Corey Miller
2415 Bob Phillips Rd.
Bartow, Fl 33830
Phone: (863) 533-7252
Fax: (863) 533-7254

Polk Halfway House

Assistant Principal: Corey Miller
2145 Bob Phillips Road
Bartow, FL 33830
Phone: (863) 519-5561 ext. 108

The program serves students with mental health issues. The 20 bed maximum capacity residential commitment facility is a moderate risk Level 6 program for boys, ages 10 to 14. The facility is operated by Sunshine Youth Services and the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Polk County Sheriff's Office Juvenile Center

Assistant Principal: Mike Butler
2390 Bob Phillips Road
Bartow, FL 33830
Phone: 863-519-3611
Fax: 863-519-3790

The program serves youth detained by various circuit court/s for violations of the law or court orders. The average length of stay is 14 days. The residential facility serves 100 youth. The youth are detained pending adjudication, disposition or placement in a commitment facility. The facility is operated by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice.