8 older students sent to alternative classes

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 25, 2003

[9/25/03]Eight Vicksburg teens not behaving in mainstream classrooms have been assigned to alternative school settings since classes began.

All were sent to the Youth Court Assistance Center during its first six weeks. The program is a product of a crackdown on discipline promised by James Price, who became Vicksburg Warren School District superintendent in July.

“With all of the publicity surrounding 20-year-old students, I’m pleased that this district was foresighted enough to have this program in place at the beginning of the school year,” Price said. “This is just one of the ways we can meet the needs of the individual students and at the same time assure parents and the community an orderly education environment.”

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Public attention to older students started this year when police arrested a 20-year-old freshman and charged him with making a bomb threat that delayed the start of classes. Two weeks ago, a 20-year-old junior was arrested and charged with capital murder after a shooting on school property that left a former student dead. Expulsion has been recommended for both suspects.

But students who commit less serious infractions and would still be expelled or suspended for long periods of time are now being sent to the center by the Warren County Youth Court on the school district’s orders.

Students in the center include a 16-year-old sixth-grader, a 15-year-old sixth-grader, a 16-year-old ninth-grader, two 16-year-old seventh-graders, two 14-year-old seventh-graders and one 17-year-old seventh-grader.

“This is one attempt to provide an education for these students prior to eliminating them from academic exposure,” Price said.

“These students are doing well, and I am pleased to have an academic program that will meet their needs. That’s not to say it’s not a struggle for them because it’s hard work, but it is in a controlled environment with skilled personnel.”

Under court orders, parents can be held responsible as well and be ordered to attend classes with their child. None have been ordered to do so since the program began.

Students at the center are being taught by Josie Williams and plans are to bring another teacher into the program.