Ombudsman families to share success stories with school board

Monday, May 11, 2009 at 2:44am

Families who have positive experiences with Nashville’s Ombudsman will be talking to school board members tomorrow.

The Ombudsman program, which allows Metro Nashville Public Schools to effectively outsource high-risk students to a private, for-profit Nashville company, has been in operation at MNPS for the last year. Director of Schools Jesse Register has said publicly that he wants to evaluate whether the program is an effective use of district money.

Currently, the district pays Ombudsman $2.55 million from federal funds to provide services to up to 480 students at a time throughout the year. Kids are able to enter and exit the program throughout the school year. Students in the program attend school for a compressed school day, allowing them to work or fulfill other responsibilities while completing high school.

At tomorrow’s regular Board of Education meeting, families who have had positive Ombudsman experiences will address school board members during the public comment period.

“A number of parents and students said they wanted to share their personal stories about overcoming roadblocks to graduation with the board and the administration, and we encouraged them to do so, if they wished,” said Cate Lewandowski, a spokesperson for Ombudsman.

The company administering Ombudsman, Nashville firm Educational Services of America (ESA), was founded by the company’s current president and CEO Mark Claypool. The program is designed to provide school districts with an additional option to offer students at risk of truancy and dropping out, but doesn’t necessarily take the place of seats at alternative schools.

Adult education initiatives

Also at tomorrow’s meeting, Register is slated to discuss new ideas about an adult high school initiative. District officials say Register has ideas about better serving this population, and wants to share his thinking with the board.

The meeting will be a very short one, scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. and end an hour later to accommodate an event honoring students. The meeting will be held at the district’s Martin Professional Development Center, 2400 Fairfax Ave., rather than at the usual location of the MNPS central office. Visit for more information.