This past week board members got a first look at an alternative discipline school.
Superintendent Dr. Dennis Thompson wants to create a better learning environment for students and teachers, so an alternative discipline school is the answer. Enrolled at this school will be students who continue to repeat behavior that is not acceptable.
Over and over school board members have had the final say about what consequences students face for their actions. Already this year expulsion hearings are up, so now the district is looking at an alternative discipline school in a wing at the former Wilson Middle School.
Board member Alice Saudargas says this approach has been taken before. In 1969 to 1971 she and other staff implemented a similar concept was at West.
Alice says, "I think it's needed. It's an excellent idea."
The alternative school at Wilson would be able to hold about 150 to 200 students. Those assigned to the school would remain there for a minimum of 30 days, but Saudargas says that's not long enough to change their behavior.
Saudargas says, "We found after the first year in ours that so many youngsters would go back after several months they were not accepted."
In the district’s discipline code whenever a student is found guilty of committing one of the offenses, points are assigned. A principal will refer a student for an involuntary transfer when they get 150 points, but board member Mike Williams says this system has no due process.
Williams says, "A parent has no choice in whether a student would be placed at the alternative school. That’s not only unfair, that’s unconstitutional."
Some of the other questions already surfacing involve what programs will be offered? How is the district going to get students to attend? And is this going to be a school that is racially identifiable?
There is a meeting set for February 1 at 5 p.m. in the board room to discuss the alternative school. Again, this is just the beginning of looking at a way to keep kids in school.