Alternative Education

The AIU's Adult Education program is proud to celebrate more than 60 years of success in providing education services in Allegheny County.

News: New Therapy Dog Fergus at AIU Academic Institute

Fergus Body PhotoA new therapy dog is roaming the halls and helping students at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit’s Academic Institute at the Allegheny County Jail. Fergus is a five-year-old black Labrador retriever who will be led by handler Cece Peterson. Fergus will work with male and female juvenile populations during bi-weekly visits to the facility. He is the second therapy dog to come to the jail, following in the footsteps of Link, an Australian shepherd who came to the Academic Institute in 2023.

“We were pleased with the success of animal-assisted therapy with Link, and we are thrilled to continue with Fergus,” said Mariah Hartman, an Academic Institute counselor at the jail. “The students enjoy the comfort and non-judgment that therapy dogs bring to group sessions, and I appreciate how the dogs facilitate communication and interaction within our groups.”

The Academic Institute is part of the AIU’s Alternative Education program, led by Dr. Licia Lentz. Anthony Esoldo is the principal of the Academic Institute, which works with male and female students who are incarcerated at the Allegheny County Jail. We offer instruction and school counseling to pre-adjudicated and adjudicated students, giving them an opportunity to continue their education while the court system handles their cases.

To learn more about Fergus and his role at the Academic Institute, along with the AIU-Allegheny County partnership and media inquiries, click here.

Who we serve

Students of Allegheny County schoolsStudents of Allegheny County schools in grades 7-12 who have been temporarily excluded from a traditional school setting. Students referred to the Alternative Education Program's community schools from Allegheny County schools meet the PA guidelines for alternative education for disruptive youth. The program also serves students in juvenile court at the Allegheny County Jail.

What we provide

  • Instruction
  • School counseling
  • Restorative Practices training
  • Advocacy
  • Academic and behavioral support

Where we are located

The Alternative Education Program operates alternative schools in McKees Rocks and Turtle Creek approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. In addition, we offer students at the Allegheny County Jail an opportunity to continue their education while detained.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords parents and students who are 18 years of age or older ("eligible students") certain rights with respect to the student's education records. Click the links below for more information.


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