School board to consider fate of alternative learning program

Monday, June 8, 2009 at 3:08am

Board of Education members are due to consider on Tuesday a report on the Ombudsman program.

Ombudsman, 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.

Two weeks ago, parents and students who have had positive experiences with the program addressed school board members during a public comment period. Register told board members at the time that he planned a full report on the program’s performance for the upcoming school board meeting, scheduled for Tuesday. The report is currently on what is an otherwise light agenda for the board’s next meeting.

In the last few weeks, Register has proposed and seen approved the movement of MNPS’s adult high school education from the Cohn Adult Learning Center to two new programs. These changes in adult and non-traditional high school education aren’t a full replacement for all the services Ombudsman provides, Register said, though some of the students currently enrolled in Ombudsman might find attractive options in the new high school programs.

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.

Tuesday’s board meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m., at MNPS’s 2601 Bransford Ave. headquarters.