ALTERNATIVE SCHOOLS†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Policy Code:††††††††† 3470/4305
The board is committed to the goal of providing a safe, orderly and inviting learning environment at each school.† The educational program and the behavior management plan developed at each school, as well as numerous other strategies identified in board policies, are intended to create such an environment and help each student be a contributing and successful member of the school.
The alternative school is provided as an option for when a studentís behavior management or academic performance needs cannot be met in a regular education setting.† The purposes of the alternative school are to (1) intervene and address problems that prevent a student from successfully achieving in the regular educational setting; (2) reduce the risk of the student dropping out of school by directing resources to helping the student resolve issues affecting performance at school; (3) return the student to the regular educational setting as soon as practical with the skills necessary to succeed in that environment; and (4) preserve a safe, orderly and inviting learning environment at the regular educational setting.
B.††††††† Alternative School Programs
The alternative school program should be developed to reflect the purposes as described above.† The educational program is expected to meet all board policy and state† requirements.† In addition, the educational program and supporting services should be designed to facilitate the transition of the student back into the regular educational setting.
Staff of the alternative school should receive training to assist them in successfully meeting their requirements.†
The alternative school is required to develop a behavior management plan, a school improvement plan and a parental involvement plan in accordance with board policy.† In addition, a conflict resolution plan, as provided in board policy 3431, Conflict Resolution, must be included in the school improvement plan.† In developing these plans, the board encourages the principal and staff to review successful alternative education programs and use resources made available by the superintendent.
The superintendent and board will review these plans in accordance with board policy.† While providing flexibility at the school level to develop the plans, the superintendent and board will not approve any plans that are not reasonably likely to meet the purpose of the alternative school.
C.††††††† Transfer to Alternative Schools
Students generally are assigned to a school based upon attendance area.† However, as provided by law, the board may assign any student to a school outside the attendance area in order for the student to attend a specialized school or for any reason the board, in its sole discretion, deems sufficient.†
Students may be transferred to the alternative school on a voluntary or involuntary basis or as an alternative to out-of-school suspension or expulsion.† The process for transfer are provided below.
1.†††††††† Responsibilities of Referring School Staff
In addition to any other procedures required by this policy, prior to referring a student to the alternative school, the principal of the referring school must:
a.†††††††† document the procedures that were used to identify the student as being at risk of academic failure or as being disruptive or disorderly;
b.†††††††† provide the reasons for referring the student to an alternative school; and
c.†††††††† provide to the alternative school all relevant student records, including anecdotal information.
2.†††††††† Responsibilities of Alternative School Staff
In addition to any other procedures required by this policy, once a student is placed in an alternative school, the appropriate staff of the alternative school must meet to review the records and other documentation forwarded by the referring school. Based upon the student's records and any input provided by the parent(s) concerning the student's needs, the alternative school staff is to determine what support services and intervention strategies are recommended for the students.
3.†††††††† Voluntary Referral
The board encourages parental involvement in decisions regarding the childís education and in identifying effective options for addressing concerns regarding the childís behavior or academic performance.†
Voluntary transfers are encouraged whenever possible.† A voluntary transfer is an agreement by the parent or guardian, principal and the disciplinary review committee that the transfer is an appropriate option for the particular student.† After agreement has been reached, the principals of the regular educational setting and the alternative school will arrange the process and time for the transfer.† The principal of the regular educational setting will notify the superintendent of the transfer.†
4.†††††††† Referral as Option to Long-Term Suspensions, 365 Days Suspensions and Expulsion
A student may be given the option or may be required to attend alternative school for violation of board policies, school standards or rules that could result in a long-term suspension, 365 days suspension or expulsion.
Board policies will be followed for any student who may have engaged in behavior that could result in long-term suspension, 365 days suspension or expulsion.† Alternative school may be considered as an option for a portion or the full duration of the period of suspension or expulsion.† The alternative school may be an option to a long-term suspension or 365 days suspension if approved by the superintendent.† In order to consider the alternative school as an option to expulsion, the superintendent must make a recommendation and the board must choose to approve the alternative school as a modification to the expulsion.†
At any stage in the proceedings, a parent may request that alternative school be considered as an option to suspension or expulsion.† The superintendent will maintain records as required by board policy 4300, Code of Student Conduct.
Once approved, the student may be transferred to the alternative school.† If the alternative school does not have the capacity to accept the student immediately, the student may be suspended from school until the alternative school can accept the student.
5.†††††††† Involuntary Referral
A student may be required to be transferred from the regular educational setting to the alternative school under any of the following circumstances:
a.†††††††† the student presents a clear threat to the safety of other students or †††††† personnel;
b.†††††††† the student is a significant disruption to the educational environment at the regular educational setting;
c.†††††††† the student is at risk of dropping out or not meeting standards for promotion and additional or different resources from what is available at the regular educational setting are needed to address the issue; or
d.†††††††† the student has been charged with a felony or a crime that allegedly endangered the safety of others and it is reasonably foreseeable that the educational environment at the regular educational setting will be significantly disrupted if the student remains.†
Prior to an involuntary transfer, the principal or disciplinary committee of the referring school will document efforts to assist the student in the regular educational setting.† The principal or disciplinary committee must also document the studentís behavior and academic performance.† A voluntary transfer is preferable to an involuntary transfer.† Therefore, the school should meet with the parents to try to reach consensus on resolution of the performance or behavior issues.†
If an agreement is not reached and a basis for involuntary transfer exists, the principal may recommend transfer to the alternative school to the superintendent.† The principal must provide in writing (1) an explanation of the studentís behavior or academic performance which is at issue, (2) documentation or a summary of the documentation of the efforts to assist the student, and (3) other existing circumstances which support an involuntary transfer.†
A copy of the recommendation and report must be provided to the parents by certified mail or in person.† The parent may request an informal meeting with the superintendent to discuss the transfer.† The superintendent may determine who can be present at the meeting.
If the superintendent approves the transfer, the principals of the regular educational setting and alternative school are to make all necessary arrangements.†
The parent may appeal the superintendentís decisions to the board.† The board will hear the appeal in closed session.† The board will follow its procedures as provided in policy 2500, Hearings Before the Board.† During the period of the appeal, the student may be transferred to the alternative school.
D.††††††† Transition from Alternative Schools
In most instances, the goal of the alternative school program will be to return the student to the regular educational setting as soon as practicable with the skills necessary to succeed in that environment.† The alternative school and regular educational setting will work together to help create successful transition for the student.†
If the student is not returned to the regular educational setting, the alternative school will assist in the transition of the student to other educational settings, including any other programs offered by the school district, community colleges or vocational schools.†
E.†††††††† Assignment of Professional Staff to Alternative Schools
In assigning professional staff to the alternative school, the superintendent will consider the experience and evaluation ratings of professional staff.† As district resources allow, the superintendent shall strive to avoid assigning to the alternative school less experienced professional staff and professional staff who have received an evaluation rating of "less than above standard" within the last three years.
F.†††††††† Evaluation of Alternative Schools
1.†††††††† Information To Be Reported
Each year, the board will evaluate the alternative school based upon the report provided by the superintendent and any other information the board wishes to consider.† In addition to data required by board policy 3430, School Improvement Plans, the alternative school must report the following information annually to the board:
a.†††††††† referral patterns from the schools, including age, race, gender and method of transfer (voluntary, alternative to suspension or expulsion, or involuntary);
b.†††††††† drop out rates;
c. how long students stay at the school and where they go when they leave the school (including the regular educational setting, community college/technical schools or drop out);
d.†††††††† training and development of professional employees assigned to the alternative school;
e.†††††††† a list of services or programs in which the alternative school coordinates with other governmental agencies; and
f. any other measures the superintendent requires.
To assist the board with evaluating the alternative school, the local safe schools plan also must include measures as to the effectiveness of the alternative school.
2.†††††††† Items To Be Considered
††††††††††† In addition to any other outcomes the board deems important, the board will determine whether:
††††††††††† a.†††††††† a diverse group of students is referred to the alternative school;
††††††††††† b.†††††††† the alternative school incorporates best practices for improving student academic performance and reducing disruptive behavior;
††††††††††† c.†††††††† staff at the alternative school is well-trained and are provided appropriate staff development;
††††††††††† d.†††††††† the alternative school is organized to provide coordinated services;
††††††††††† e.†††††††† students at the alternative school receive high quality and rigorous academic instruction; and
††††††††††† f.††††††††† the alternative school assists students with transition back to the regular education setting or to other educational settings.
Legal References:† G.S. 115C-47(32a), 105.48, -276(r), -288, -367, -391
Cross References:† Hearings Before the Board (policy 2500), School Improvement Plans (policy 3430), Conflict Resolution (policy 3431), Parental Involvement (policy 1310/4002), Code of Student Conduct (policy 4300), Assignments/Reassignments/Transfers (policy 7440)
Adopted:†† July 2, 2001