Ardmore alternative suspension program helps keep students in class

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ARDMORE, Okla. (KXII) -- Ardmore Middle School says they are finding success in an alternative suspension program they started at the start of this school year.

The Suspension Alternative Learning Tool was rolled out at Ardmore Middle School this year.

Parent Verletta Scott chose this option, after her 8th grade son was in a fight at school.

"My son can't be suspended. We're not doing that," Scott, an educator herself, said. "I don't want him missing any part of his education."

Instead of three days of missing class, he got three days of S.A.L.T classes after school.

"We have a saying, correction through education," Assistant Principal John Black said. "We're only going to correct these behaviors if we educate the kids on the behavior, the reason for the behavior, and how to solve the problem because of the behavior."

The program was created in response to too many hours being missed by suspended students, a program Black says is the first of its kind in the area.

"They've built up an armored plate, [suspension] isn't going to do nothing to me," Black said. "So we have to take a different approach, than old school discipline and suspensions and those things."

But it's not some after-school detention. Not only are they individualized classes. with homework, but the parent must be present as well.

And while some parents have had to decline due to their schedules, the school says they try to accommodate the parents' work schedules.

"It made me think of 40 years ago when I was in school, where parents and teachers were more times always on the same page," A.M.S behavior interventionist Regina Benson said. "And this puts us on the same page of the parent."

Scott said it was a success.

"It gave him the opportunity to re-evaluate the situation," Scott said. "What he could, or should have done, that could have been different. Or, even to just walk away from the situation all together."

Black says of the 38 that have attended the program, they've only seen three get in trouble again. Only 10 cases have declined the program, which Black attributes to the parents' scheduling.

And while it isn't a pilot program for the district, he says the superintendent has been very supportive.

"We had to come up with something to solve from our problem," Black said. "And if its something that the district can benefit from, we're more than happy for that to happen."

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