Job Corps Center Safety Is Focus of McCaskill Request

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill is requesting a review of the implementation of safety and security measures at Job Corps centers following new disciplinary policies that were announced last summer after numerous incidents of misconduct and violence, including the murder of a 21-year-old student at the St. Louis Job Corps Center in April 2015. Job Corps is a program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor that offers career training to approximately 60,000 low-income youths each year at 125 vocational centers nationwide, including three centers in Missouri.

“Job Corps centers in St. Louis and across the country provide invaluable job skills to the young people they serve—but we’re robbing them of these opportunities if they’re not safe when they walk in the door,” McCaskill said. “Given just how serious some of the violent incidents have been in the past, we’ve got to make sure the new disciplinary policies are being followed.”

A March 2017 review by the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General found that Job Corps center operators did not report potentially serious criminal misconduct to local law enforcement or to national Job Corps officials. However, the review did not examine the period after new disciplinary policies, including a revised Zero Tolerance Policy, went into effect.

McCaskill wrote the Department of Labor Inspector General Scott S. Dahl to determine whether problems have persisted following the recent policy changes. “The [Job Corps]  program has thousands of success stories, however, in recent years, it has also been plagued by reports of violence and student misconduct,” McCaskill wrote. “I recognize that significant changes have been made to Job Corps’ policies…However, I remain concerned about threats to student safety and well-being at Job Corps centers. Therefore, I respectfully request an updated review of Job Corps’ enforcement and oversight of student disciplinary policies.”

The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, where McCaskill serves as the top-ranking Democrat, has oversight jurisdiction over nearly the entire federal government. This year, McCaskill’s oversight has included efforts such as calling for an investigation into whistleblower complaints about the contractor working on construction of a new clinic building and medical rehabilitation facility on the Jefferson Barracks campus of the VA St. Louis Health Care System and requesting answers from the Missouri National Guard on what it will do to address findings that one of its contractors retaliated against contractor employee Michael Sandknop after he made disclosures that were protected under whistleblower statutes.

Read McCaskill’s letter to Dahl HERE.