State Board Policy

DESCRIPTOR TERM: Alternative Education Guidelines
CODE: 901
ADOPTION DATE: October 20, 1995
REVISION: November 19, 2012

1. The alternative school program is defined through written board-approved policies and procedures that define and provide appropriate educational opportunities for the categories of students to be served.  Further, the program must meet the requirements of Mississippi Code Section 37-13-92.

2. The district has and follows written procedures which meet the federal guidelines outlined in Goss vs Lopez due process requirements for removal of a student from school for disciplinary reasons.

3. The curriculum and instructional methodology address the needs of students through an Individual Instructional Plan which emphasizes academic performance behavior modification, functional skills, and career education.

4. The student/teacher ratio in each classroom is no greater than 15:1 with a process for approving exceptions by the State Department of Education.

5. Adequate instructional staff is assigned to ensure the continuing education of students and classroom supervision at all times.

6. Certified teaching staff and other staff assigned to the alternative program have adequate credentials to achieve the stated mission of the program.  Further, students assigned for a grading period or longer and receiving Carnegie unit credits will receive instruction from appropriately certified teachers.

7. When the alternative school program is housed in a free standing facility separate from the regular school program, there is a certified administrator assigned to supervise the program.

8. When the alternative school program is housed in an existing school, the safety of regular staff and students will be insured by appropriate supervision and isolation as necessary.  When an alternative program is operated by two or more school districts, pursuant to a contract approved by the State Department of Education, the contract will indicate which school district will house and which district will operate the alternative education program.

9. Rules and regulations which address the unique needs of alternative program students have been developed and disseminated to parents and students.

10. The alternative school facilities are clean, safe and functional, and commensurate with facilities provided to other students by the local school district.

11. The school district is in compliance with applicable laws and State Department of Education guidelines for reporting information relating to the alternative program.

12. Cumulative records on each student placed in an alternative program remain at and are maintained by the sending school.

13. Personnel assigned to an alternative program will report any criminal activity or other unlawful activity committed on school property to the appropriate authority.

14. Students enrolled in alternative programs/schools, including those provided through contractual agreements among multidistricts will participate in the Mississippi Assessment System at sites determined by school officials and in accordance with established guidelines regarding student grade levels and eligibility.  Test results for these students will be reported in the home school district.

15. Evaluation of the student's progress will be conducted at regular intervals according to district policy and the appropriate records will be maintained and subject to the State Department of Education review.

16. The Individual Instruction Plan will provide full-day attendance with a rigorous workload and minimal noninstructional time.

17. Districts may select programs from options provided by the local school district, the Mississippi Department of Human Services (Division of Youth Services) or the youth court, and/or transfer to a community-based alternative school.

18. Alternative programs will provide:

     a) a motivated and culturally diverse staff

     b) counseling for parents and students

     c) administrative and community support for the program.

19. The district will complete an annual program review and evaluation as directed by the State Department of Education.

20. No school district is required to place a child returning from out-of-home placement, in the mental health, juvenile justice or foster care system in an alternative school program.  Placement of a child in the alternative school shall be done consistently, and for students identified under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), shall adhere to the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004.  If a school district chooses to place a child in alternative school the district will make an individual assessment and evaluation of that child in the following time periods:

(i) Five (5) days for a child transitioning from a group home, mental health care system, and/or the custody of the Department of Human Services, Division of Youth and Family Services custody;

(ii) Ten (10) days for a child transitioning from a dispositional placement order by a youth court pursuant to Section 43-21-605; and

(iii) An individualized assessment for youth transitioning from out-of-home placement to the alternative school shall include:

1. A strength needs assessment.

2. A determination of the child's academic strengths and deficiencies.

3. A proposed plan for transitioning the child to a regular education placement at the earliest possible date (37-13-92).

21.  School districts that enter into a contractual agreement with a private entity to provide services to students placed in an alternative setting must ensure compliance with federal and state laws and State Board Policies governing alternative education.

22.  Alternative school placement shall be for, but not limited to, the following categories of compulsory school age students;

      (a) whose presence in the classroom is a disruption to the educational environment of the school or a detriment to the best interest and welfare of the students and teacher;

      (b)  who has been suspended  for more than ten (10) days or expelled from school, except for any student expelled for possession of a weapon or other felonious acts;

      (c)  who are referred by the dispositive order of a chancellor or youth court judge, with the consent of the school district’s superintendent; and

      (d) who has been referred by the parent, legal guardian or custodian of such child due to  disciplinary problems (37-13-92).

23.  The removal of a student to an alternative education program shall include a process of educational review to develop the student’s individual instruction plan.

24.  Alternative school placement shall be determined individually on a case-by-case basis and applied consistently.

25.  School districts are without discretion to establish categories or classes of offenses for which the penalty is total removal from the school setting.  Thus, unless a child has been suspended or expelled from school for possession of a weapon or other felonious conduct, the student must be assigned to the alternative school for that school district.  The district is cautioned not to have policies that remove students from the traditional school setting to an alternative school setting for minor infractions.  If the acts of a student, although not rising to the level of a felony, are such that the student poses a threat to the safety of himself or others or will disrupt the educational process at the alternative school, the school district is not required to admit the student into the alternative school.

Mississippi Department of Education     P.O. Box 771     Jackson, MS 39205-0771     General Information: 601-359-3513

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