Trustees approved a policy change in a split vote that would mean changes to the district's alternative placement policies for discipline reasons.
The change will eliminate the Tier 1 sites, which are located on six campuses throughout the district but serve all middle and high schools, and cut 44 employees. Students assigned to the alternative placement work with teachers in the program and can be placed there for up to 30 days. Under the changes, they now will be placed in their own campuses' in school suspension room, which is for students who need to be removed from regular classes throughout the day. The teacher overseeing in school suspension will work with th students assigned to both. Students will work on their studies via online programs.
Three trustees voted against the changes, including trustee Carlos Vasquez.
"We are rushing and not taking the time to understand what the changes will do," he said.
Students can be placed in Tier 1 sites for various discipline reasons for up to 30 days. The sites are located at six campuses throughout the district. Administrators noted that most placements are discretionary and that there was a high rate of repeat offenders in the program.
But J.R Miller, a teacher at Dunbar's Tier 1 site, told trustees that students have a better chance of correcting their behaviors and maintaining academics by working closely with qualified teachers. Without the Tier 1 programs, Miller worried students could be subjected to the more severe punishments.
He said he rarely works with same students.
The district has Tier II and Tier III placement sites, including the Middle Level Learning Center and Horizons, at which students are placed for up to 180 days for more serious discipline issues. Students can be placed at Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Programs for felony-related discipline issues.
Steven Poole, deputy executive director of the United Educators Association that represents some district employees, spoke out against the changes saying not enough time has been spent examining the recommendations and its possible implications.
"It's a rush plan," he said, noting that staff was recommending trustees adopt the policy change in one reading rather than the traditional two it would have needed.
The Tier 1 programs cost the district $3.1 million a year.