A bill aimed at preventing students from languishing in alternative schools is on its way to the governor, after passing its last hurdle in the Legislature on Tuesday.

County-run community schools and district-run community day schools are meant to be a temporary rehabilitative placement for expelled and truant students, not a permanent placement, said supporters of Senate Bill 744, introduced by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Long Beach. Yet students and families say they often are kept in the schools for extended periods of time without clear guidelines for returning to traditional campuses.

The bill would revise current law to provide a number of safeguards against the misuse of these schools. Some of those safeguards include:

  • Limiting the kind of probation referrals that would require placement in those schools.
  • Barring schools from sending homeless children to them.
  • Ensuring that the pupil’s educational needs are met, that parents don’t object to the placement, and that the school is located close enough to the student’s home to be reasonably accessible.
  • Setting a timeline for when students can return to their previous school.
  • Giving pupils who are expelled but then found to be innocent of the charges the right to return to their previous school.
  • Allowing only the school board that expelled a student to be able to extend the time the student spends in an alternative school.

Filed under: High School Completion, K-12 Reform, Legislature and Bills, Quick Hits, State and Federal Policies · Tags: , , ,

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  1. el says:

    This confuses me a little and I’d be interested in some background to go with it.

    It appears that this is meant to combat misuse of continuation schools – what kind of misuse is being seen that requires legislation?

    It was my understanding that these schools are exactly where expelled kids are supposed to go. If they aren’t to go there permanently, where is an appropriate placement for expelled kids? Is the intent that expulsions be reversed or is the intent that some other school take the student?

    The line to bar the placement for homeless kids I assume is meant to keep kids from being placed there because they are homeless, rather than to prevent kids who are appropriately or voluntarily placed in a continuation school who happen to be homeless from being placed there.

    I definitely think meeting kids’ needs has to be a priority. In my area, that’s why we use them – because kids have needs for credit recovery or other special schedules that the regular school doesn’t accommodate. Continuation schools are supposed to exist to meet actual needs, not as a warehouse for undesirables. With more access to online learning, there’s no reason they have to be an academic wasteland for kids who are more academically able.

    I would caution anyone working on this bill to make certain they’re not cutting off options for schools and students in areas different than their assumptions – where high schools are few and far between, for example.