Alternative School Program To Split

Monday, April 14th 2008, 10:40 pm
By: News On 6

There are new developments at a troubled Tulsa alternative school.  The Tulsa Academic Center came under fire last month, after reports of overcrowding and frequent violence.  The News On 6's Ashli Sims reports the numbers are down, but there are still way more students enrolled in the alternative school than actually show up.

It seems like the Tulsa Academic Center or TAC is still having trouble keeping track of its students.  There are 235 students enrolled in the program.  But, only 76 showed up on Monday morning.

"We've got to do better with our alternative schools," said Tulsa Superintendent, Dr. Michael Zolkoski last spring when he announced his plan for shaking up alternative education.

He said the Tulsa Academic Center would give kids an alternative; a way to get back on track.  But, the school has been plagued with reports of violence and overcrowding.

The discipline heralded at similar programs in Dr. Zolkoski's old district in Lafayette, Louisiana was said not to exist here in Tulsa.

Three weeks ago, Dr. Zolkoski announced an 11-point plan for change, including putting a hold on any new transfers to TAC and phasing out the short-term program which lasted for 30 days.

On March 25th, TAC enrolled about 430 students when about 200 were attending.  Now, those numbers have dropped to about 235 are enrolled, but only 76 are showing up.

Tulsa Public Schools still can't account for the 150-student difference.  Some students may be back at their original schools.  Some may be skipping.  Some may have dropped out.  Some may have been suspended from the program.

Dr. Zolkoski called for a boost in staff and security.  They have hired a principal and principal intern, a director of counseling and two more leadership instructors.  But, they've also lost two leadership instructors.  And, they still only have four security guards.

Several parents expressed concern that TAC students as young as 12 were in the same classrooms as 18-year-old seniors.

TPS reports that by the end of this month, there will be two separate programs:  one for middle school students, the other for high school students.