LITTLE ROCK — A state regulation that requires school districts to immediately drop a student sentenced to a state juvenile detention facility should be changed, the director of the Benton County Juvenile Detention Center told lawmakers Monday.

LITTLE ROCK — A state regulation that requires school districts to immediately drop a student sentenced to a state juvenile detention facility should be changed, the director of the Benton County Juvenile Detention Center told lawmakers Monday.

Dennis Cottrell suggested Department of Education rules be changed to allow a 10 day “window” that would allow those students who serve just a few days in a juvenile lockup to return to their school without having to re-enroll.

Arkansas Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell said he would consider the request.

Four legislative committees have met periodically since June examining whether education programs at eight youth lockups run by the state Department of Human Services’ Division of Youth Services should be placed under the authority of local school districts.

The Benton County Juvenile Detention Center in Bentonville is not part of the DHS system and the education students in the facility receive is provided by the Bentonville School District.

Cottrell, who was invited to Monday’s joint meeting to discuss how students in the county facility are educated, said his facility houses 600-800 juveniles a year and the average stay is about 8.5 days. The maximum a juvenile can stay in the facility is 90 days.

“When juveniles come into the system they are going to come in and be dropped immediately by the local school district,” he told lawmakers. “We want them to succeed educationally and we want them to go back into the school system, but when they are dropped from the local school district, it means that local district cannot provide assignments and school work, and things that will help them become successful. Instead, what happens is these juveniles get further and further behind.”

He said a 10-day window is needed “before the juveniles are dropped because most of them go back into the school system and we will not see them again. We don’t want them to get behind.”

During a juvenile’s brief stay in the detention center, Cottrell said, the local school district could provide the student any assignments needed to keep up with their classes.

Some lawmakers at Monday’s meeting were unaware of the rule and agreed it probably should be changed. “It’s counterproductive to some extent, where you enroll, unenroll, reenroll, all of the rigmarole, if you will, that goes along with this,” said Sen. Linda Chesterfield, D-Little Rock.

Removing the rule would save the students and their parents time, and also save the school district paperwork, she said.

Kimbrell said the rule has been in place for more than 20 years.

“We can take a look at the rule, we’ll take a look at why that rule is in place as it is,” he said.

Rep. Johnnie Roebuck, D-Arkadelphia, sponsor of the interim study to evaluate the rule, said she plans another meeting in December or January to hear from school superintendents, representatives of community-based programs and judges.

Roebuck, chairman of the House Education Committee, said she hopes a final report with recommendations can be presented to lawmakers in January.

Legislative panels meeting jointly Monday included the Senate Interim Committee on Children and Youth; the Senate Interim Committee on Education; the Children and Youth Subcommittee of the House Interim Committee on Aging, Children and Youth, Legislative & Military Affairs; and the K-12 Vocational-Technical Institutions Subcommittee of the House Interim Committee on Education.