Philly lawmaker proposes Pa.'s first public 'recovery high school'

A state lawmaker from Philadelphia plans to introduce legislation next week that would create Pennsylvania's first publicly funded "recovery high school" for students with drug addictions.

The school would be located in Philadelphia.

State Rep. John Taylor (R., Phila.), along with a Republican state senator from Allentown, is proposing a four-year pilot program for 30 students.

They said the school would provide on-site intervention, support services, and academic curricula designed for students in early recovery.

“It has been shown that students who return to their previous high schools following substance abuse treatment are much more likely to relapse than those students who participate in a school specifically designed to provide the assistance, support and intervention that is needed to prevent a relapse from happening,” said state Sen. Pat Browne, who will introduce the companion bill in the Senate.

The estimated cost per student would be $20,000, Taylor spokesman Marty O’Rourke said, and students could come from districts throughout the Philadelphia region.

Half the cost per student would be paid by the student's home district, and the other half would come from the state, O’Rourke said.

Taylor and Browne announced the proposal Thursday at the Bridge Way School, a non-profit that the lawmakers believe could be a model for the new publicly-funded school.

Taylor, who represents Port Richmond and some Northeast Philadelphia neighborhoods, has long dealt with drug addiction among teenagers.

A decade ago, during a deadly surge in Oxycontin overdoses, Taylor embarked on a public service campaign to raise awareness. Among other things, he released a video for parents and young people that included stories from families who had lost loved ones to addiction. He recently updated the video and posted it to YouTube.