The St. Clair County School System recognizes the need for alternative pathways to educational success. These pathways range from essential early intervention and prevention strategies in the early years, to a multiplicity of high-quality alternative options within the mainstream K-12 systems at the middle and high school levels, and finally to provide educational opportunities outside of the mainstream for those who have been unable to learn and thrive in the general education system.
The school system has developed several programs that address a variety of student needs when requirements of students typically cannot be met in a regular school, provide nontraditional education, serves as a partner to a community-based school, or falls outside the categories of regular, special education or vocational education.
TYPE I Programs: The Virtual Preparatory Academy & SCC Summer School offers full-time, multiyear, virtual and remote learning education options for students of all kinds, including those needing more individualization, those seeking an innovative or challenging curriculum, or dropouts wishing to earn their diplomas. A full instructional program offers students the credits needed for graduation. Students follow an application process and choose to attend. Other characteristics include divergence from standard school organization and practices (deregulation, flexibility, autonomy, and teacher and student empowerment); an especially caring, professional staff; small size and small classes; and a personalized, whole-student approach that builds a sense of affiliation and features individual instruction, self-paced work, and career counseling. Models range from schools-within schools to career-focused and job-based schools, dropout-recovery programs, after-hours schools, and schools in atypical settings like shopping malls and professional buildings.
TYPE II Programs: The Ruben Yancy Alternative School & SCC Saturday School whose distinguishing program characteristic is discipline, aims to segregate, contain, and reform disruptive students. Students typically do not choose to attend but are sent to the school for specified time periods or until behavior requirements are met. Since placement is short-term, the curriculum is limited to a few basic, required courses or is entirely supplied by the ‘virtual school’ through e-learning assignments.
TYPE III Program: The St. Clair County Day Program provides short-term, but therapeutic setting for students with academic and behavioral barriers to learning. Although Type III programs target specific populations—offering counseling, access to social services, and academic remediation—students work cooperatively with the juvenile probation office on the length of a student’s placement and may not choose to participate.”