An alternative school is a school that has been established to provide instructional courses to eligible at-risk youth so they can earn a high school diploma. Alternative schools are required to offer programs that are clearly designed to serve at-risk students.
An at-risk youth is any secondary student, grade seven through twelve (7-12), who meets any three (3) of the following criteria in Section A, or any one (1) criteria in Section B.
Has repeated at least one (1) grade.
Has absenteeism that is greater than ten (10%) percent during the preceding semester.
Has an overall grade point average that is less than 1.5 (4.0 scale) prior to enrolling in an alternative secondary program.
Has failed one (1) or more academic subjects.
Is two (2) or more semester credits per year behind the rate required to graduate.
Is a limited English proficient student who has not been in a program more than three (3) years.
Has substance abuse behavior.
Is pregnant or a parent.
Is an emancipated youth.
Is a previous dropout.
Has serious personal, emotional, or medical problems.
Is a court or agency referral.
Upon recommendation of the school district as determined by locally developed criteria for disruptive student behavior.
The first step is to talk with the counselor and administrator at your child’s current school. They will help determine if your child meets the at-risk qualifiers and if there is space available.
No, many districts do not have enough at-risk students to have a separate school. However, those districts generally offer “alternative programs” to meet the needs of the students. The programs are usually operated within the existing schools.
Grades six (6) through twelve (12) can be served by alternative schools. In 2015, the Idaho State Legislature changed the law to allow the enrollment of sixth grade students in alternative schools or programs. The specific grades served are a local decision, with many districts serving grades nine (9) through twelve (12).
In addition to the main academic areas, alternative schools are required to provide instructional programs and special services to meet the needs of the at-risk population they serve. The instructional programs include:
Personal and career counseling
Physical fitness and personal health
State approved professional technical education
Child care with parenting skills
Special services may include social services, i.e. officers of the court or social workers, or a day care center.
Alternative schools are accredited independently or as part of the traditional high school. Regardless of the method for accreditation, the credits earned at an accredited alternative school can transfer to another accredited school.
Yes, they can attend the alternative school. The student’s team developing the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) needs to determine that the alternative school is the least restrictive environment and that all of the appropriate services are available at the school.