Alternative school programs in Western Line School District are being consolidated from two locations to one, in an effort strengthen the program.
At the June 13 board meeting, members adopted the recommendation from Superintendent Lawrence Hudson to integerate the alternative program at Riverside High School to the O’Bannon campus.
Alternative schools provide non-traditional classroom setting and learning oppertunities to students struggling with repeat or serious disciplinary issues.
“The purpose of combining the two is to be able to provide the best education to students in the alternative setting,” said Hudson. “This is not about saving money. It’s all about providing a quality education to students.”
Hudson said the district was meeting the minimum standards by the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) as it relates to alternative schools, and not providing enough services for the students involved. Hudson said the change is prompted by a desire to focus on students’ success by making the best use of tools and resources available ot the district.
According to MDE, the minimum standards of alternative education are:
• Any compulsory school age child, who has been suspended for more than ten (10) days or expelled from school, except for any students expelled for possession of a weapon or other felonious conduct;
• Any compulsory school age child referred to such alternative school based upon documented need for placement in the alternative school by the parent, legal guardian or custodian of such child due to disciplinary problems; and
• Any compulsory school age child referred to such alternative school program by the dispositive order of a chancellor or youth court judge, with the consent of the superintendent of the child's school district.
The alternative school program provides students an opportunity to continue their education in a more restrictive environment for a specified time period, until behavior requirements have been met.
Transportation will be provided to students. Students in the Riverside School Zone will be transported by bus from home and O’Bannon. Students will continue to be on the graduation pathway pursued before becoming an alternative school student.
Every student has their own individualized instructional plan that must be followed.
An online MDE course, Edgenuity, provides core courses to students.
The alternative program will be staffed with an alternative school director, certified teacher and at least one teacher assistant.
Computers, supplies, equipment and tools will be combined from both locations and used at the O’Bannon program.
Board members Ruby Evans and Ruby Slade, support having the program at one school.
“I have been an alternative school principal before and I do know that an alternative school can effective,” Evans said. “It can be effective when it comes to correcting the behavior and maintaining the curriculum of the school.”
“I believe the more students we have together, the more they would benefit from the learning,” Slade said. “More numbers, more learning.”