INFORMATION on the Youth Study Center:
The Youth Study Center is a division of the City of New Orleans Human Services Department. The Youth Study Center has the chartered responsibility of providing secure detention to youth ages 8-16 that have been arrested and are in pre-trial status. The facility cannot legally detain youth who commit status offenses, i.e., runaway, truants, and ungovernable and unruly offenses.
The Center provides a full school program for all detainees with Orleans Parish school teachers providing this service in the facility. In addition there are after school and summer tutorial programs. Social, recreational, and counseling services are provided. Medical care is provided by a pediatrician, a full-time nurse and a dentist.
The facility is located at 1100 Milton Street, New Orleans, LA 70122, (504) 658-3400 telephone, (504) 658-3425 fax.
YSC Administrative Staff
Superintendent: Mr. Glenn Holt
Assistant Superintendent: Mr. Leroy Crawford
Assistant Superintendent: Mrs. Stephanie Mills
Social Services Specialist: Ms. Cyndee Williams
From April 17th till May 5th, the Manhattan Art Program attempted to teach a collage and journal writing course at the Youth Study Center in New Orleans.
Despite numerous communications and a working agreement with Attendant Supervisor Leroy Crawford, several miscommunications in organization over how many hours per week that could be guaranteed to the class led to the program’s unfortunate premature cancellation. Several classes were cancelled by the Center without notice to instructors or students.
There was no exact reason given by the Youth Study Center for the cancellation of the course which ran for only 3 of it’s intended 6 weeks. When attempting to contact Mr Crawford by phone on the day of a scheduled class, Ms. Williams was told that she was ‘harassing’ him and that the next she ‘enters the premise, the police will be called.’
A conversation with Glen Holt, another Supervisor of the YSC, shed some light on the conflict. Holt explained that the students in the disciplinary setting would not be bound to participate in any after-school course, thus lowering the rates of class participation. Without the cooperation of the supervisors at the YSC, the course had emptied out of students with many being released weekly and new kids not recruited from the general population.
As the instructor for this program, I consider the failure of the adult supervisors and myself to be professional enough to secure an art course for these students particularly hard to accept. All of the students, which I encountered at YSC, felt genuinely involved in the projects of each class and in need of regular exposure to such programs. They we focused, forthcoming and active in our sessions. Searching for the reasons for tensions between the supervisors and our class, I find that there was an essential disagreement between the purpose of the course. I was shown images of another ‘successful’ art project from YSC. They were print-offs of clip art gravestones which students had been instructed to fill in with their own names and the day’s date. Underneath the stones were lines spaced where they had written their own eulogies. I was also encouraged to have a standardized contract for each student to sign in order to participate in the class. I feel that there was this sort of ‘scared-straight’ aesthetic expected of the course, which our art material oriented art programs did not achieve in the eyes of the YSC. It seems to me now that this partnership was ill-matched, flaring tempers and lack of understanding further complicated any administrative compromise.