Clarke school board approves school contract with Ombudsman

Date: June 12, 2016

Written by Lee Shearer

The Clarke County Board of Education approved another extension of the school district’s contract with Ombudsman, the private company that runs special schools for students who’ve been expelled for serious disciplinary infractions.

But the board wants more frequent reports with more specific data about just how well the Tennessee-based company is performing its contract work at its two Athens sites.

“Students referred to Ombudsman are typically over-age, under credit and/or academically behind due to skill deficiencies, attendance/truancy issues, disruptive behaviors, suspension, expulsion, and/or other factors. Students are primarily referred through the District’s discipline or tribunal process. These discipline referrals are due to incidents such as fighting, weapons and/or drug offences,” according to language in the contract the board approved.

According to Ombudsman’s regional vice president, Mac Petit, about half the students who come to the schools need special help for behavioral or other disabilities.

Of the 169 students who attended classes with Ombudsman this school year, 111 were high school students and 58 were middle school students, Petit told the school board this month. Many students don’t attend for the entire school year — some drop out, some return to their schools and others leave for other reasons, he said. Most are ninth- and 10th-graders age 16 or 17, and about 70 percent are male.

Under the contract, the school board will pay Ombudsman $857,000 next school year for 100 student slots at $8,570 per slot.

The board approved the contract, but tacked on some additional requirements for Superintendent Philip Lanoue.

Under an amendment proposed by board member Greg Davis and unanimously approved by the board, Lanoue will collect more detailed information such as what infractions Ombudsman students committed, what kinds of disabilities they have and the ethnic makeup of the Ombudsman schools. He will also communicate that information more frequently to the board.

“We want to know the effectiveness of the program,” Davis said.

The school board first hired Ombudsman in 2010, closing its own school for expelled students and signing on with Ombudsman under a contract that called for a $1.6 million payment for 175 slots.

Source: Online Athens

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