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Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction OCSS - History

Early Prison Education History

  • 1884 Warden Peetry established a night school at the Ohio Penitentiary. By 1909, there was a civilian superintendent with 20 inmates’ teachers holding fifteen (15) classes for 200 students. These classes were held five nights a week for one and half hours per night. The fifteen classes included: shorthand, penmanship, four primary classes, five intermediate classes, three advanced classes and one graduating class. Reading, writing, spelling, US History, grammar, geography and stenography were taught in these four school levels.
  • 1896 In its first year of operation, the Ohio State Reformatory (OSR) had an education program, which according to the penologists of the day, "is the basic step toward reform." By 1933, Officer A.T. Sneeringer, Superintendent of Inmate Schools, who had attended classes at Ohio Northern University, was able to combine character building into the education as a part of the whole social fabric. Of the 3486 inmates at OSR, 1625 attended either half or full days classes. Sixteen trained teachers, many holding "state life certificates," provided instruction in reading, writing, spelling, grammar, arithmetic, geography, history, civics, English, algebra, economy, draftsmanship, and fundamentals of agriculture. Classes were held five hours a day, six days a week. In addition since 1925, W.P. Close, chief engineer, had organized trade classes in engineering and drafting. In 1928, Mr. Close added steam engineering, plumbing, steam fitting, electrical mechanics and welding. Inmates received one hour per day of classroom study and seven hours of practical experience in the shops. State examiners provided regulation state tests in stationary engineering and firing. Years ago trade classes included brick laying, stone cutting, masonry, broom making and other trade applicable for the times.

Ohio State Reformatory school room located in Mansfield, Ohio



History of the Ohio Central School System -- Chartered April 9, 1973

  • November 1971 Bennett Cooper, Head of the Division of Corrections, and education administrators from the eight prisons first meet with officials from the Department of Education (DOE) to discuss the development of a statewide Secondary High School Charter. OSR (Fields High School) and Lebanon Correctional Institution (LeCI), Shaker Valley High School, had independent high schools, both Chartered by DOE in 1965.

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  • June, 1972 A study was released entitled, Rehabilitation Education. It served as the primary document for the school charter.
  • June 1972 F. Patrrick Cronin, education administrator at the Marion Correctional Institution (MCI), became the first School Superintendent.
  • July, 1972 The Division of Correction separated from the Department of Mental Hygiene and Correction to become the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) with Bennett Cooper as the first Director.
  • April 9, 1973 Dr. Martin Essex, Superintendent of Public Instruction for DOE, presented to Bennett Cooper, a special purpose school charter for DRC.


DRC Director Bennett J. Cooper, accepting 1973 school charter from Dr. Martin Essex,
Superintendent of Public Instruction for the Ohio Department of Education.


  • June, 1973 Ohio Project Newgate, through the Ohio Board of Regents (BOR), was approved for DRC inmates to attend college.

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  • Summer, 1973 Per Ohio Revised Code (ORC), DOE began annual summer inspections of OSCC with a written report submitted to the Governor. This ended in 1993 when the mission of DOE changed regarding school district inspections.
  • June 3, 1974 Bennett Cooper officially named the school system "Ohio Central School System" (OCSS) in a letter to DOE.
  • June 10, 1974 Harrison Morris, Assistant Superintendent, became the second Superintendent of OCSS.
  • Summer, 1974 Per the Library Services Construction Act (LSCA), OCSS started to receive grant money for the libraries at Chillicothe Correctional Institution (CCI) and the London Correctional Institution (LoCI). In 1972, as part of the LSCA requirements, the State Library of Ohio hired a library consultant, Phil Koons, to serve as liaison with OCSS and the Department of Youth Services (DYS), then known as the Ohio Youth Commission.
  • Summer, 1974 DRC and DYS entered into a financial contract arrangement with the Division of Vocational Education in DOE to provide a vocational consultant out of DOE and a Vocational Teacher Educator out of The Ohio State University (OSU) to serve the vocational programs of both state agencies. DOE agreed to pay half the costs and OCSS and DYS to pay one forth each. Initially Brad Carlton out of DOE was hired to do both jobs. However, Ted Shannon was hired in September 1974 to be the Teacher Educator and Neil Johnson was hired in January 1975 to be the Vocational Supervisor consultant.
  • September 1974 Inmates became eligible for the federal Basic Education Opportunity Grant (BEOG), forerunner of the Pell grant, and Ohio Instructional Grant (OIG) for college courses.
  • September 1974 Inmates began attending Ohio University through their Independent Study Program.
  • July, 1975 The Ohio Penal Education Consortium (OPEC) was formed. OPEC includes the colleges and universities that provide post secondary education, through in-house instruction, to DRC inmates.
  • October, 1975 The first statewide OCSS staff development training conference was held in Columbus, Ohio.
  • January, 1980 Rex Zent, Assistant Superintendent, became the third Superintendent of OCSS.

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  • April 1, 1983 A ten year OCSS Anniversary was held and included Bennett Cooper, Pat Cronin, Harry Morris with Dr. Essex and Doyle Shoemaker of DOE. All five were the honored guests and speakers.
  • July 1983 OCSS started receiving funding from DOE for vocational education.
  • December, 1983 A statewide Pre-release Program, under the supervision of OCSS, was established at the Correctional Pre-Release Center (Now Pickaway Correctional Institution "PCI"). The women’s Pre-Release Program left in 1986. The program was provided via contracted services at each prison (except for state employees at PCI and the Montgomery Education and Pre-Release Center) from July 1, 1991, until June 30, 2001. On July 1, 2001, the Pre-Release Program contracted services were eliminated and a Release Preparation Program was phased in over the next year.
  • January, 1984 Jerry McGlone, Assistant Superintendent, became the forth Superintendent of OCSS.
  • Summer, 1984 OCSS established a DRC Mandatory Education Policy for inmates reading below 4th grade. Due to the success of the mandatory program, the grade level requirement continued to increase over the years.
  • Autumn, 1985 The OHIO PLAN, the country’s first Training, Industry and Education (TIE) initiative, was implemented in DRC and the Deputy Warden of Treatment’s title was changed to Deputy Warden of TIE. In the 1990’s the Deputies title was again changed to Deputy Warden of Special Services.
  • July, 1986 The first teachers union contract was ratified. The teachers union is called the State Council of Professional Educators (SCOPE) which is an affiliate of the Ohio Education Association (OEA) and the National Education Association (NEA).
  • July 1986 Special Education teachers, funded via a grant for DOE, were hired for Southeastern Correctional Institution (SCI) where all the under age 22 students were housed. In 1993, Special Education was expanded throughout OCSS.
  • July 1986 OCSS hosted the International Correctional Education Association (CEA) Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • February 3, 1987 DRC and DOE approved the regionalization of administration for OCSS and most of the institutional Directors of Education (Principals), became Regional Education Administrators (REA’s). Each institution hired a School Facilitator ("head" teacher) to run the daily education activities.

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  • May, 1987 OCSS central office moved from 1050 Freeway Drive to 315 Phillipi Road to be housed with OPI in keeping with the TIE initiative. As the number of educational administrators increased, many were housed at the Corrections Training academy (CTA) beginning in 1994.
  • July, 1987 The Correctional Education Association of Ohio (CEA-O), was formed. CEA-O is a state affiliate of the International CEA.
  • November, 1987 The first CEA-O Conference was held at Kings Island in Cincinnati, Ohio, with 500 participants from DRC and the DYS.
  • April 3, 1989 The first Literacy Unit at Madison Correctional Institution (MaCI) was established and soon after a second Literacy Unit at Allen Correctional Institution (ACI) was created.
  • June, 1990, Beverly Jo Taylor, a teacher at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF), was killed by her inmate clerk.
  • December 31, 1990 Fields High School ceased to exist with the closing of OSR.
  • February, 1991 An Apprenticeship Mentoring Program was formally established and document signed by the Lt. Governor and DRC/OCSS Staff with the US Department of Labor and the Prince Hall Masons of Ohio.
  • December 24, 1991 The title of School Facilitator was changed to School Administrator.
  • March, 1993 The title of Regional Education Administrator was changed to Principal and title Education Administrator to Superintendent.
  • September, 1994 With the passage of the federal crime bill, inmates were no longer eligible for Pell Grants for college, effective July 1, 1995. This lead to noticeable media and political attention for OCSS and post secondary correctional education.

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  • October 6, 1994 The Legislative Office of Education Oversight (LOEO) released its final report on OCSS entitled: Education Behind Bars: Opportunities and Obstacles. Among the many recommendations was a line item budget for OCSS.
  • October 6, 1994 The legislature changed the language in ORC 5145.06, which now reflected the use of the words OCSS for the first time and more specifically noted the mission of OCSS. Prior to this date ORC 5145.06, stated the Ohio Penitentiary would have an elementary day school to provide education.
  • July 1, 1995 OCSS received its fist line item budget in DRC, in combination with other programs, as part of the State’s Biennium Budget.
  • July 1, 1995 A Penal Education Study Committee was established by the 121st General Assembly in House Bill 117, as part of the State Biennium Budget. The Committee mission was to review the future and funding of the Post Secondary Education programs in DRC. The bill allowed DRC to continue the use Ohio Instructional Grants for the biennium. The committee convened that autumn, with Senator Finan (Finance Chair of the Senate) selected as Committee Chair. The committee disbanded in August 1996, with the submission of its recommendations to the Governor in a report entitled: Post Secondary Education in Ohio Prisons. Major recommended changes were 1) for the post-secondary curricula to change from liberal arts degree programs to advanced job training courses with certificates and 2) for DRC to fund these courses in a line item, thus eliminating inmate eligibility for OIG’s effective July 1, 1997. In addition it recommended funding for the use of Distance Learning in OCSS effective July 1, 1997.
  • Summer 1995 Shaker Valley High School at Lebanon Correctional Institution (LeCI) was disbanded and an adult high school at LoCI created. This was done due to the increased security level at LeCI.
  • August, 1995 DRC released its first research document on the recidivism of inmates in education programs entitled: Evaluation of the Impact of Correctional Education Programs on Recidivism. It showed positive impact on education, particularly with 3rd and 4th degree felons, women, and when completion is close to release.
  • January, 1996 Offender Job Linkage was incorporated into the pre-release curriculum.
  • July 1, 1996 OCSS had its first separate line item budgets in the DRC budget.
  • May 12, 1997 The Community Based Correctional Facilities (CBCF) education programs officially became a part of OCSS.
  • July 1, 1997 Inmates were no longer eligible to receive college degrees. The new college advanced job training curricula were officially adopted.

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  • July 1, 1997 In the State Biennium Budget, the legislature provided within the DRC budget a separate OCSS line item budget. The legislature also included a second line item for Post Secondary Education, which was now officially called Advanced Job Training.
  • Autumn, 1997 DRC began to emphasize Restorative Justice and Community Service with its Service Learning component supported through OCSS.
  • April 24, 1998 OCSS celebrated its 25th Anniversary. All three of the former OCSS Superintendents and First DRC Director were acknowledged and spoke. DRC Director Wilkinson and OCSS Superintendent McGlone also addressed the audience. Old documents and artifacts were on display and a pictorial history presentation was shown on screen. Current and retired staff hired in education before April 9, 1973, were individually honored.
  • Autumn, 1998 OCSS initiated annual National CEA audits, which were used until 2001. All schools achieved 100% compliance for each of the years involved.
  • Autumn, 1998 OCSS first received federal funds from the Youthful Offender Program for inmates under age 26 for college. It was used in conjunction with the OCSS college line item budget to increase the number of inmates in college.
  • November 1999 OCSS, having earlier written the education language for the contracts, started the oversight of the education departments of the two private prisons in DRC. The North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility (NCCTF) opened in February 2000, and was managed by CiviGenics. In April 2000, the Lake Erie Correctional Institution (LaECI) opened under the management of the Management Training Corporation (MTC). MTC also took over the management of NCCTF on July 1, 2001.
  • February 2000 The State Auditor’s Office decided to add the OCSS college programs at Belmont Correctional Institution (BeCI), and Noble Correctional Institution (NCI) to its audit of the Aramark Food Service Contract at NCI.
  • May, 2000 DRC initiated an internal audit of OCSS and its college programs and submitted the college findings in the autumn to the State Auditor as part of his report.
  • Spring, 2000 OCSS received its first negative reports in the media due to these audits.
  • July, 2000 CEAO in conjunction with OCSS hosted the International CEA Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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  • August, 2000 DRC completed the OCSS written internal audit report resulting in major accountability and administrative changes, effective January 1, 2001. This included use of an extensive annual OCSS Internal Management Audit. Results have been as follows: 2002 - 89% compliance, 2003 - 92% compliance, 2004 - 95% and in 2005 - 98% compliance (Note in 2001, the first year, statistics were not maintained).
  • September, 2000 First Lady of Ohio, Hope Taft, received a "Jumpy the Kangaroo" puppet as part of the Governor’s OhioReads ceremony at the Corrections Training Academy. Jumpy is part of an OCSS reading project designed to teach inmates and their children literacy skills.
  • December, 2000 The legislature came within one vote of unanimously enacting a mandatory education bill for DCR inmates who do not have a High School Diploma to participate in school. The Governor signed the bill and it became law on March 22, 2001, as part of ORC 5145.06.
  • January 1, 2001 OCSS central office moved from 315 Philllipi Road to 820 Freeway Drive.
  • February 2001 Director Wilkinson initiated the Reentry Philosophy into DRC.
  • June 30, 2001 Pre-Release Contracts were eliminated to focus on a broader Reentry Initiative. These contracts with various community agencies and colleges had been in place since 1991.
  • November 9, 2001 The State Auditor’s Report on the Aramark Contract and OCSS college programs was released to the public. The report briefly created more negative media attention for OCSS.
  • November 2001 CEA released the first national research study on recidivism for correctional education entitled: CEA Three State Recidivism Study. Since Ohio was one of the states involved, OCSS received some very positive media and political attention.
  • December, 2001 Due to the DRC Early Retirement Incentive (ERI), the first of three major OCSS retirement buyouts took place.
  • February, 2002 OCSS in its first report to the US Department of Education on the students enrolled in college through the Youthful Offender Program showed a 7.4% recidivism rate, a very low rate for any program. Subsequent reports have shown similar results of six to 7%.

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  • September 30, 2002 The ERI ended. Fourteen executive staff and principals of OCSS took advantage of the ERI along with approximately 20 field staff.
  • June, 2003 OCSS central office moved to 1050 Freeway Drive, North.
  • Autumn 2003 OCSS instituted the California Assessment Survey for Adult Students (CASAS) statewide. This replaced the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE) as the primary testing instrument for OCSS. It was decided this test was more in line with adult assessment needs and the Reentry Initiative. TABE had been used since the early 1970’s.
  • October, 2004 The Transitional Educational Program (TEP) started with the original name TETV. It began at NCI and the Ohio Reformatory for Women (ORW) along with two CBCF sites. TEP is a collaborative effort with Community Connection, a non-profit organization designed to help ex offenders, and OCSS. It includes 1) a CD based program, 2) Distance Learning Delivery and 3) culminates with students using the TEP web site upon release.
  • December 13, 2004 OCSS had its first Virtual Graduation from TEP.
  • January 3, 2005 The adult high school at LoCI and the high school for the under 18 year olds at MaCI were combined into one high school called, The Ohio Central High School. Teachers now rotate between sites.
  • January, 2005 Ex offenders of TEP began using the TEP web site.
  • January, 2005 The first Education Intensive Program Prison (EIPP) became operational at ORW in Marysville, Ohio. In June the NCCI and NEPRC EIPP’s became operational. Seven Intensive Program Prisons (IPP) replaced the two "Boot Camps". Three are education, two are Recovery Services and the boots camps changed to Community Service as their focus.
  • April 22, 2005 OSCC students in the IPP at North Central Correctional Institution (NCCI) used the Internet for the first time as part of the e4ME program conducted through the Ohio Board of Regents (BOR) and its Ohio Learning Network (OLN).
  • July 1, 2006 The new union contract for teachers provided OCSS/DYS teachers vacation during the two week quarter breaks rather than the earned vacation accrued by all other state employees. Ratification of the contract was by a close vote due to the controversy of this new provision. Education leave was eliminated as a trade off for the eight weeks of vacation.
  • July 2006 documents were disseminated on the effectiveness of TEP which showed the 700 certificated recipients released since December of 2004, had a 95.5% reentry success rate, only 4.5% had returned to DRC prisons. The documents also demonstrated the extensive use the web site and after care provided by Community Connection to these ex-offenders.
  • July 2007, OCSS changed from Pro literacy (Labauch) tutor training program, a new national program developed by OCSS staff for CEA, as the tutoring program.  OCSS had used Labauch since 1987; however, it is believed the new CEA Tutor training program has more applicability and relevance for the inmate population.
  • January 31, 2008, due to the state's fiscal problems, the Director announces layoffs.  Teachers are exempted from the layoff lists.
  • June 10, 2008, Director approves the move of the OCSS headquarters to the Best Practices building which is renamed the Training and Education Center.  It is under the supervision of OCSS and for the first time OCSS has its own separate building in DRC.  The Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent relocated there along with several OCSS executive staff from CTA.
  • July 1, 2008, the OCSS implements the new Career Enhancement curriculum which is taught in five week sessions aimed at short-term employment skill development.
  • August 12, 2008, the central office of OCSS moves to the old "Best Practices" Building (formerly the Bureau of Criminal Investigation Building in front of LoCI).  The building was renamed the Training and Education Center on that date as well. OCSS is the main group in the building and is responsible for its operation. The Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent relocate there along with several OCSS executive staff from CTA. Thus, for the first time OCSS has its own building.
  • January 2009, due to the continuing state budget crisis layoff lists are prepared including education staff.
  • May 2009, the Director announces the layoffs are suspended.
  • June 2009, OCSS has its own separate address at the Training and Education Center: 1580 State Route 56, P. O. Box 779, London, OH 43140.
  • September 30, 2009, OCSS Superintendent Dr. Jerry McGlone retires after nearly 26 years in this position. He is believed to be the longest tenured Correctional Education leader in any statewide jurisdiction.
  • October 11, 2009, Denise Justice, Assistant Superintendent, becomes the fifth Superintendent of the Ohio Central School System.


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