An Innovative School. An Inspiring Leader. And a Sex Scandal. (Bayou Brief. December, 2020.)


Miy former boss Miss Christy.

This week, the director of the Travis Hill School inside of New Orleans’ jail, Christy Sampson Kelly, was arrested for an allegedly inappropriate relationship with an 18-year-old imprisoned man. Evidence supposedly included over 700 recorded phone calls of a sexual nature, and Kelly depositing hundreds of dollars in the young man’s account.

I worked under “Miss Christy,” as we called her, for almost two months in summer 2019 at Travis Hill. And though I can’t say I knew her, definitely not enough to defend her, I find this news unbelievable. It’s tough to imagine anyone crossing that dangerously stupid line, much less Miss Christy.

Travis Hill School, a charter run by the non-profit Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings since 2016, remains a beautiful example of the way America should handle young people, or really any people, who’ve broken serious laws: At the jail, recently renamed the Orleans Justice Center (OJC), any imprisoned person 21 years old or younger is forced to attend high school, with the goal of earning not a GED but a real diploma.

At last summer’s end, I watched two students walk across the stage in their cap-n-gowns.

Named after a New Orleans musician who spent time in jail as a youth before becoming a beloved local trumpet player and bandleader, Travis Hill is one of very few in-prison schools in incarceration-addicted America. TO READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE AT BayouBrief.com CLICK HERE

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