If expelled students cannot participate in the Warren County School District's Alternative Education for Disruptive Youth program, then where can they go?
"We're referring to new mandates from the state as far as (which) students can be placed in AEDY," Director of Pupil Services Patricia Hawley-Horner said. "Alternative education cannot serve expelled students. (It is designed) to serve (the) at-risk student population, and that's a major change."
In the past, the district has utilized the alternative education program to provide educational opportunities to expelled students.
An expulsion program summary posted on the district's website lists three potential educational options for expelled students.
Option one permits expelled students to receive online education with support from district teachers. "Expelled students will have communication with the AEDY teachers to get any questions answered via e-mail or telephone," the summary states. "Student progress will be reviewed by the AEDY professional staff to address academic and attendance issues."
Option two is home instruction. The district can provide five hours per week of in-person teaching time in the home of an expelled student.
Option three is an expelled student's parents finding other educational programs outside of the WCSD.
"Act 26 offenses are driving the expulsions," Acting Superintendent Amy Stewart said.
According to the Pennsylvania school code, Act 26 requires that schools "shall expel, for a period of not less than one year, a student who brought onto or is in possession of any weapon on any school property, at a school or a school-sponsored activity or onto any public conveyance providing transportation to a school or school-sponsored activity."
For offenses other than Act 26, illegal drugs or bodily harm, a 45-day placement in the AEDY program might be appropriate.
"One of the keys is the early intervention component of this," Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Gary Weber said. "(It) can get kids the help they need much quicker."
Horner said that the new process has allowed the district to avoid the expulsion of several students who committed non-Act 26 offenses.
"This is a big shift in how the state is looking at alternative education," Stewart said. "Right now, we're not doing what we need to be doing. We're not in compliance with the state."
"We don't want to put expelled students in with non-expelled," Misty Weber, AEDY program administrator, said. "They should not be together."