Thursday, October 1, 2009

Education Superintendent Named For DJJ Schools

Will Build Upon Recent Success in Educating Juvenile Offenders

Sacramento -- Furthering a critical priority in reforming the state’s juvenile justice system, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has named veteran educator David Murphy as Superintendent of Education for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ).

Murphy, who has been an education administrator for the last 20 years and is a former remedial English and mathematics teacher, will be responsible for directing staff and developing policies for the DJJ’s network of accredited high schools.

Murphy began his teaching career in Torrance and later was a high school principal before guiding school districts in El Dorado County and Davis, where he significantly increased the number of students meeting University of California admission requirements and steadily decreased the number of students who required remedial classes in math, science, history and English.

“This is a significant step forward for the Division of Juvenile Justice in not only fulfilling an accreditation requirement as a school district but also meeting the education parameters outlined in the Farrell litigation,” said Matthew Cate, Secretary for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. “It’s critical that we provide the best education possible for youthful offenders to help them avoid an endless cycle of crime.”

“Mr. Murphy will bring the stable executive leadership that is much needed,” said Bernard Warner, DJJ Chief Deputy Secretary, of the position that has been filled by various staff in acting capacities for six years. “His character and expertise will set the tone and the direction to meet our goals that are much like those of any other public school district.

Murphy, who has led the creation of magnet and charter schools as well as reading programs for students who speak little English or who are in the bottom third of the nation’s reading scores, sees no difference in the challenge posed by DJJ youth, despite their violent backgrounds or need for treatment.

“People learn in many different ways and we need to understand how our kids learn,” said Murphy. “We have the responsibility to change how we teach to how they learn.”

Since March, 2005 when DJJ adopted a remedial plan for education, a 300 percent increase in the number of youth who have achieved some level of academic performance, from earning high school diplomas or GEDs to enrollment in vocational or continuing education classes or college courses, despite a 48 percent decrease in population during that time, as youth were diverted to county facilities.

DJJ has completed 77 percent of the policy and program reforms required in the education portion of the Farrell settlement. Murphy’s goals are to sustain that progress and to strengthen vocational education so that youth learn employable job skills to compliment their academic achievement, giving them a foundation for living productively.

Murphy’s approach looks at DJJ students as a whole person and it requires engaging every DJJ staff person who comes in contact with them, including counselors, medical and psychological staff in addition to teachers, he noted.

Murphy earned a Master of Arts degree in educational policy and administration from Stanford University; a Master of Arts degree in education administration from San Jose State University, a teaching credential from Loyola-Marymount University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Santa Clara University.