PERRY, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Houston County School Officials addressed parents of special needs students about moving the district’s special needs program to share a building with its alternative school.
It was a decision that several parents had a concern with. It all started with a letter from the school district.
“It just says there’s a parents transition academy meeting,” said parent Tia Mitchum.
Mitchum and other parents of Transition Academy students received this letter and soon realized it was about a possible merge between the special needs program and the district’s alternative school–Cross Roads.
“The stigma that Cross Roads has, I would not want my child to say, ‘I go to Cross Roads’ if someone asked,” Mitchum said.
The Transition Academy is a program that prepares adult special needs students for life–teaching them day to day work skills–a slightly different focus than Cross Roads.
“Cross Roads is an alternative school–it’s a place where kids have exhausted all of their chances at high school,” she continued.
School district spokesperson Beth McLaughlin says in order to expand the growing the Transition Academy, moving it was the best option.
“Just because you want to move them out and into Cross Roads because you’ve got other classes you’re bringing to the career center that are bringing you money. That’s not fair to our children,” said Mitchum.
One school board member, Lori Johnson, says she was there for the meeting and made aware of the concerns after speaking with parents.
“That’s one thing that I can’t comprehend…is why would they think to put our children there?” Mitchum added.
Bill O’Neal also attended the meeting and was considering the Transition Academy for his daughter Caroline up until he found out about the move.
“We will opt out–we will have to find something that will hopefully be beneficial to her,” said O’Neal.
“I just want my son to be safe and I don’t want to be at home worried about whether he’s okay,” said Mitchum.
O’Neal says he isn’t convinced after the meeting that finding another home for the Transition Academy is something the district will really work toward.
“We hope that the school board will go back and realize the mistake of their decision,” he added.
Superintendent Scott declined when asked to do an on-camera interview or make a statement addressing the parents concerns but Houston County Schools rep Beth McLaughlin says that nothing is set in stone yet.
The Transition Academy has about 14 students enrolled currently while the alternative school typically has 125-150 students enrolled depending on time of the year.