Charlottesville School System's Alternative Program Draws Attention

By: Summer Knowles
By: Summer Knowles

Members of the community have been raising concerns about the setup of the Charlottesville School System's Alternative Program throughout the year, but school officials say more visits to the facility would promote a better view

Officials who work with the Alternative Program say the heavily structured environment promotes better behavior as well as improved academic performance.

Program Coordinator Kathy Johnson Harris says they've "actually had a large percentage [of their] children to go on to meaningful jobs in the community after graduation or to attend colleges and universities in the state of Virginia."

The alternative program is aimed at educating students who have been suspended or expelled from school for chronic disruptive behavior.

School officials believe the program is a positive for the community because it keeps kids off the streets during school hours, but they do admit the program is by no means perfect as far as behavioral problems.

"Yes there are issues that come up anytime you deal with teenagers, and there are disagreements, but there are probably fewer at the alternative school than there are at the regular schools just because they get more attention," says Associate Superintendent Robert Thompson.

School officials say more attention and understanding from the community would go a long way as far as the kids are concerned.

"We could stand to see more support from the community, more volunteers and more ownership of these kids," says Harris.

Thompson agrees and wants to remind the community that "it's important for everybody to remember that they're kids, and kids make mistakes; and when they do make those mistakes, we feel they deserve a second opportunity. This program provides them that opportunity."

According to statistics from the Charlottesville Police Department, there have not been an abnormal number of incidents at the program's facility. Local residents and business located near the facility tell the Newsplex that they haven't experienced any problems with the students enrolled in the program.

The Alternative Program has an open door policy, and school officials encourage members of the community to stop by for observation. The building is located on Henry Avenue in Charlottesville.

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