Alternative school placement

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by Socialwork2005, Aug 8, 2012.

  1. Socialwork2005

    Socialwork2005 New Member

    This is my first post to the site. I am looking for help related to my son's school issues. He has been placed in an alternative school for the past year. He will be entering 2nd grade. His kindergarten year was fine until christmas, and then a disaster resulting in 3 suspensions, and a partial hospitalization placement. Last year in the alt. school brought mixed emotions. I was relieved not to have to deal with constant phone calls, to the point where i flinched when the phone rang wondering what my difficult child had done now. However, i am very worried that he will never return to a mainstream school. Also, surrounded by other children with behavior difficulties that are equally or more severe, he has not done very well. He picked up some more behaviors to add to his repoirtare. Has anyone had the experience of havinvg a child in an alternative school setting with a successful transition back to mainstream? And if so, how did you help to make that happen? My school district is small with very little emotional support help. I feel that is why we are where we are in the first place. Thanks for your help!
  2. ALogan3

    ALogan3 New Member

    My son was placed in an alternative school in 5th grade. He was seriously unable to function. The following summer they added abilify and it seriously improved his functioning. I, of course, document EVERYTHING! With much law study I began my fight to return him to his home school. With many typed mailed out agenda's and meeting's by mid 6th grade year he was back at his home school. It can be done, with functioning improvement. Now 2 years later I regretted that move but it was great for him to go home. It was a large district with no support. This site enabled me to accomplish everything I ever did for my difficult child so you are in the right place!
    Chin up!!
  3. jal

    jal Member

    Welcome Socialwork2005, sorry you have to be here, but you've found a great place for support. My difficult child was placed in an alernative school in 1st grade. He is going back to mainstream this year for 5th grade. While at the moment, I can't say that it is successful because it hasn't happened completely yet, he did partial mainstreaming with his school district towards the end of year and did very well. Like you, going to an alt school was met with mixed emotions. We were originally devastated, yet he needed it and it helped. It took 4 years of hard work by him and staff to prepare him. His program was housed in a mainstram school, in its own wing. When time came for him in 3rd & 4th grade he participated in mainstream classes there. So he's had quite a bit of exposure to it, just not within his district.

    First of all supports are very important. Both in the alt school and when mainstreaming. What supports is your child receiving @ the alt school? What behavioral model does the school work with (ie: Boys Town)? Does he have outside support, a therapist or counsoler that he sees? My son's school worked with the Boys Town model, he had individual and group therapy, received Occupational Therapist (OT) and speech support, therapeutic horseback riding, extended school year services.

    difficult child will have supports in place with mainstream. He will have a para, time with-sped teacher (he has no Learning Disability (LD)'s, but sometimes group instruction can be hard, but he soaks up one on one), scheduled breaks, time with the social worker.

    What also has helped this transition is we've always kept him involved with sports in district so he knows kids in his mainstream class and school.

    So far I have to say the program was successful. Along with the program and some maturity we have seen very positive changes. When you say your school has little to no emotional support, is that in district or in the alt school, for you or for him?
  4. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Yes, some children do successfully return to mainstream buildings after time in an alternate school setting. You will need to stay on top of it as the district will likely be a bit PTSD about allowing him to return. MAKE SURE that the IEP does not state that he must "make his levels" or something similar prior to returning home. The school can easily make sure that he never meets his levels. I taught in an alternate school and one of my 10 year olds needed to go back to his home school but he could never make it to level 6 (a combination of being 10 and being provoked by the other boys, when punched, most boys will punch back). He had a very good case manager from his home school and I pleaded with her to let him go back and she did and he did well.

    I had a high schooler in my class (different year) who returned from our alternate building to his schools alternate wing and was elected homecoming king by his peers in that program and chosen valedictorian by the staff for greatest improvement and effort. He had a wonderful warrior mom. There are success stories!
  5. Alt Teacher

    Alt Teacher New Member

    I teach early elementary at an alternative school similar to the one you are describing. My goal is to work my way out of a job, so to speak, by successfully transitioning my kiddos back to their LRE as they reach their behavior goals. I've had plenty fully transition back within 6 months, but I've also had some for several years. There is no denying that students see other inappropriate behaviors. Part of my job is to be continuously modeling for my students the appropriate behaviors and to be providing plenty of positive feedback. Hopefully this is what is happening at your son's alternative school.

    That being said, most of my students have transitioned back to their school (I only have 1 student now who has been with me for more than 3 years). This is done with a LOT of support from across the board. First, meeting with the parent monthly for a formal review of the student's progress. I stay in contact with parents more frequently than that, however, with phone calls every week or so and occasional home visits to brag on their kiddo (students LOVE it!) While you cannot get your teacher out to the house, requesting a meeting to review your son's progress, or, if applicable, struggles, is a great way to ensure you are in the loop and have documentation of your son's behavior and the school's interventions.

    Support staff is incredibly helpful during the transition process. In my opinion, it is most helpful when that person builds a rapport with the student at the alternative school prior to the transition beginning. Furthermore, I also encourage my students' teachers to visit our school periodically to maintain their rapport with the student - returning to a larger environment will be stressful and you should expect bumps in the road when that time comes, but the fewer changes the better and a few familiar faces when he starts to transition can only facilitate the process.

    The alternative teacher is likely teaching some replacement behaviors. During the planning, ask your son's teacher at his regular school how those replacement behaviors and coping techniques will be implemented there (For example, if he has a cool off area, where will that be in his new classroom? Who will be responsible for practicing with your son the procedure for asking to cool off? Does he have Occupational Therapist (OT) aides, such as stress balls or vests? Where will those be kept and what will be the procedure for your son having access to them?)

    Each student I've had has been different and we've developed the transition plan to best address his or her needs. And each school district is different. If I could only offer one bit of advice in preparing for, and during, the transition process, it would be to maintain communication with the teachers. If they don't initiate it, you initiate it and request a meeting. It does not need to be an IEP, just a meeting to make sure you are on the same page.