Five Nevada high schools, including one in Clark County, are joining the state’s roster of alternative schools.
Alternative schools are required to serve a distinct group of students, including those with special needs, those in juvenile detention centers or those with behavioral issues. Once designated as alternative schools, they are exempt from the state’s regular academic ranking system.
The state Board of Education approved the new schools during a meeting Thursday, bringing the total number of alternative schools in the state to 22.
The new schools are:
— Desert Rose High School in Clark County.
— Independence High School, run by the state Division of Child and Family Services.
— C.O. Bastain High School in Lincoln County.
— Eagle Ridge High School in Lyon County.
— Pathways High School in Nye County.
Because of the student populations the schools serve, evaluating alternative schools the same way as traditional schools does not provide meaningful information to the schools, according to department officials. To qualify for the program, the school’s mission must be to serve a specific group of students and 75 percent of the school’s population must meet that criteria.
While the schools provide options to students who struggle in a traditional setting, some are concerned they could become dumping grounds for underperforming or troubled students.
“Is there any chance for abuse here?” Mark Newburn, the board’s vice president, asked Thursday, noting that school districts conceivably could route such students into the alternative schools in an effort to help increase the performance of their traditional schools.
Brett Barley, the state Department of Education deputy superintendent, said the concern had been raised before.
“This is something staff is being very vigilant about,” he said, adding that state officials would be alerted if a school’s population dropped below the 75 percent threshold.
Newburn and the rest of the board then unanimously approved the new schools.
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