Behavior problems and alternative schools

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by Sheila, Oct 19, 2007.

  1. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    I doubt this problem is limited to Texas.

    Yes, they can. Then for kids w/repeated problematic behavior there's the thought maybe the students should be referred for evaluation to see what the underlying problem may be. How's that for a good "IDEA?"
    Report critiques how Texas districts send students to alternative schools
    Referrals depend on where kids live, not their behavior, group says.

    By Joshunda Sanders
    AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
    Friday, October 19, 2007

    Texas Appleseed, a nonprofit public interest group, said Thursday that 167 school districts in Texas refer students to disciplinary alternative education programs at a rate that is more than twice the state's average, even when they have the option not to. Texas has 1,037 school districts.

    "More than 100,000 students are referred to (alternative education programs) each year," said Ron Lewis, a Houston lawyer and the incoming Appleseed chairman. "Two-thirds of those students are referred at the discretion of school districts."

    The report documents disparities among districts in how students are treated and recommends more standardized rules and increased state oversight.

    "Where you go to school, and not your behavior, dictates whether you'll be referred" to an alternative education program, Lewis said.

    Researchers for the group said that a history of disciplinary referrals is the single most important factor in determining whether a student will drop out of school. The alternative programs are often the last step for troubled youths before they enter the criminal justice system.

    The report found that alternative education students are five times as likely to drop out as their peers in mainstream schools.

    Appleseed Executive Director Rebecca Lightsey said that numerous studies have established a link between school dropouts and incarceration. Eighty percent of all Texas prison inmates are school dropouts, and one in three Texas Youth Commission inmates is a dropout, according to the Appleseed report.

    When a student is suspended or removed from a classroom for violating school conduct policies, officials can refer that student to an alternative classroom. But in many cases, such placements are not required, and districts have the choice of imposing other sanctions, such as in-school or at-home suspensions.

    The Austin school district was cited in the report for referring a disproportionate number of African American, Hispanic and special education students to alternative education programs.

    But it was praised for beginning a program that emphasizes early, intensive intervention for some students that is meant to reduce disciplinary referrals.

    The report said the Austin, Bastrop, Leander, Lockhart, Round Rock and Taylor school districts referred a disproportionately high percentage of special education students to alternative schools.

    For instance, in Austin, special education students make up 12 percent of the total enrollment in the district. But special education students made up 38 percent of all alternative education referrals between 2001 and 2006.

    The state average for all referrals is 2 percent of students, the report said.

    Some school districts were criticized for sending prekindergarten and kindergarten students to alternative programs. State law says children younger than 6 can be referred to such programs only for taking a firearm to school.

    The report listed districts that sent more than 10 prekindergarten and kindergarten students to alternative education and those that sent more than 40 first-graders.

    The Leander school district was the only Austin-area district listed. Between 2001 and 2006, Leander referred 19 prekindergarten and kindergarten students and 40 first-graders, according to the report.
  2. Martie

    Martie Moderator

    Sheila,

    This is confusing to me....Aside from being appalled that pre-KDG kids are being sent anywhere, there is confusion about who qualifies for "alternative education" vs ISS or being "sent home."

    IF a student is IEP qualified, then there are stringent rules for how one gets into an alternative education so as not to violate FAPE and LRE. Of course, whether or not those rules are followed depends upon parent vigilance, but at least there is statutory regulation.

    For non-special ed students, it is a [censored]-shoot as to who is referred: minority and poor males are the most often victims. However, there is no limit on ISS or out of school suspension for "regular" students. About the only recourse a parent has is to take the SD on for lack of due process in the civli rights sense, and this is unlikely because of the expense and lack of clear statuatory basis for such challenges.

    What this clearly points to is the need for every parent with a child who has difficulty following school rules have that letter on file with the SD stating this as a basis for a supicion of a disability. THEN, if the child is suspended or there is an attempt to expel, an evalaution for SpEd can be invoked to protect the student's future.

    The "school to prison pipeline" is fed by the alternative "schools" most of which do not educate and in IL, at least, blatantly encourage dropping out. No one wants kids who bring weapons or deal drugs in regular schools, but this is NOT the typical student who is sent off to alternative "education."

    These places used to be called BD "holding tanks" to distinguish them from the true therapeutic schools network. I think nothing has changed.

    MORAL OF THIS POST: Write that letter to the SD and send it CERTIFIED if your child is not currently IEP qualified, and is likely to be subject to arbitrary discipline, which on this board, means virtually every child.

    Martie