Phila. SD cuts disciplinary school provider

My education team colleague Susan Snyder joins Philly School Files today with the following report:

The Philadelphia School District has cut one of the companies overseeing disciplinary classrooms in its schools.

The Abraxas program had served 270 students in grades three through eight in nine classroom sites around the district last school year. The decision to end ties was made because the company did not meet standards set within the district’s “accountability matrix,” said district spokeswoman Shana Kemp.

Phone calls to the company were not returned.

Kemp said services to the students will not be interrupted. They will continue to be helped in alternative classrooms run by the district, she said.

Abraxas was hired more than five years ago by former district CEO Paul Vallas to run alternative classrooms for violent and extremely disruptive elementary students within regular elementary schools scattered around the city.

Classrooms were self-contained and  staffed by a teacher and a behavior specialist. They were housed at Birney, Decatur, Harrison, Holme, Hunting Park, King of Peace, Logan, L.P. Hill and Middle Years Academy schools, according to the district’s web site.

Students were evaluated after 30 days to determine if they could return to a regular school. In addition to academics, the students received counseling and character-building courses. Not all students enrolled completed the program, Kemp said.

The district does not plan any budget cuts to its disciplinary schools, Kemp said. More than 4,000 students were enrolled in the disciplinary schools last school year. Capacity will remain the same, Kemp said.

The school district last year operated 19 disciplinary schools or programs (including the Abraxas sites), where students who have committed serious disciplinary infractions are educated after being removed from traditional public schools.

The school district last summer canceled a more than $7 million contract with Community Education Partners, a private company that managed disciplinary schools.