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New Program Targets Disruptive Students

Some high school and junior high students who have trouble behaving in class will have to make up for it by missing out on the fun of Friday nights.

A new program requires students with repeat or serious discipline problems to stay at Enid High School from 9 p.m. Friday to 1 a.m. Saturday, doing homework and taking character-building courses.

The Weekend Intervention Program is being done with the help of the Garfield County District Attorney's Office.

Organizers hope the program will prevent problems from escalating and ending up in the district attorney's hands.

``We believe that truancy and school disruptions are predictive of future delinquency problems,'' said Tim Gungoll, assistant district attorney.

The program involves students in grades 7 through 12. Administrators from Enid High and the three junior highs will give referrals to the program. Students with truancy problems or those who perpetually disrupt classes will qualify.

``The punishment for a kid not going to school ought to be going to school extra,'' said Butch Lingenfelter, high school principal.

The program has a capacity of 12 students, and Lingenfelter said he expects to have from six to nine each week. Seven students were scheduled to be in the program when it made its debut Friday night.

Students are responsible for their own transportation to and from the program. An off-duty sheriff's deputy will monitor the program. The deputy is the only paid person in the program; the district attorney's office has raised the money from private donations.

A community volunteer will supervise the students each Friday night.

Lingenfelter said the program offers an alternative to out-of-school suspension for students with less serious problems.

``A lot of these kids are not bad kids. They have just made mistakes,'' he said.

Representatives from the school system, governmental agencies and volunteer organizations started working on the program in September after Gungoll approached the school system with the idea.

The program could be expanded to elementary schools, officials said. It mirrors an existing in-school program, called High Challenge, for students in grades 4 through 8. The district attorney's office will be taking donations to fund it, Gungoll said.

If students do not attend the suspension or are disruptive, officials will refer their cases to the district attorney's office. That could result in the student going before a judge and being assigned an intake worker from the Office of Juvenile Affairs or the county juvenile office.

Initially, students will attend the program for one Friday night. That could change as the program grows, said Gary Kirtley, assistant school superintendent for administrative services.

The key to the program is that students won't miss class, Kirtley said.

``We're keeping them in school so they can learn,'' he said.

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