Sheriff: Inmates have a lot to learn

NORWICH – For the last five years, Timothy Wennrich has helped more than 80 percent of his students get their high school diploma before being released from the Chenango County Correctional Facility.

According to New York State law, all people under the age of 21 are entitled to a high school level education – even those serving time in jails, prisons, or detention centers.

Each weekday, Wennrich meets with a juvenile and adult class for about two and a half hours each, assigning reading lessons, homework assignments, essays and exams.

“We are just like any other school. We have to comply with all state mandates including No Child Left Behind. If our students don’t perform well we face funding cuts,” said Wennrich.

Wennrich is technically an employee of the Norwich School District and the program’s annual operating budget of $115,000 is paid for by area schools.

“If a student in a district is incarcerated, then New York State says that distinct has to pay for his education while they’re doing their time,” he explained.

Chenango County Sheriff Ernest R. Cutting said the mandated program offers trouble youths and young adults an opportunity to better their lives once released.

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