By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Cincinnati Public Schools plans to dramatically reduce the number of high school students expelled each year by sending troubled students to alternative learning centers instead of expelling them.
Superintendent Alton Frailey on Wednesday said the new program, which will be launched in February in two high schools, will allow troubled students to continue their education and receive behavior counseling instead of being sent home for up to 80 days.
Until now, CPS has not had alternative programs for students who were expelled.
"To suspend and expel kids to the streets is not the answer," Frailey said during a board meeting Wednesday.
Kicking troubled kids out of school often makes things worse, he said, because the students don't receive counseling in how to change their behavior during their expulsion period, and they often return behind in their schoolwork.
School officials added that students who are expelled are more likely to become dropouts, which can lead them to become welfare-dependent or engaged in crime.
The 40,347-student district last year handed out more than 200 expulsions in grades 9-12.
Under the new program, most of the students who would have been expelled will instead attend one of the alternative sites. Their offenses will not count as expulsions as long as they continue to attend school at an alternative site.
Those who are assigned to the alternative school but don't attend will be referred to the juvenile court system for truancy.
Students who bring firearms to school will not be eligible for the alternative program because federal law requires mandatory expulsion.
The alternative sites will be housed at Taft Information Technology High School in the West End and at Withrow High School in Hyde Park. Students will attend from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. They'll receive instruction in social skills and the core subjects.
"We have an obligation to ensure our children are educated and their behavior problems are addressed," said Deputy Superintendent Rosa Blackwell, who oversees a discipline committee of parents, teachers, administrators and community members. "Students need to be in school so they can receive instruction."
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