Parents discuss alternative school plan for Muscogee County

(Source: Jose Zozaya/WTVM)
(Source: Jose Zozaya/WTVM)
(Source: Jose Zozaya/WTVM)
(Source: Jose Zozaya/WTVM)
(Source: Jose Zozaya/WTVM)
(Source: Jose Zozaya/WTVM)

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Concerned parents, retired educators, even Muscogee County School Board members, met to come up with solutions that may improve alternative education in the community.

"They're kids who deserve the same thing I had," one grandmother told the room of dozens gathered inside the Columbus Public Library.

"A decent classroom, decent teachers and decent people."

The MCSB has been the target of criticism recently, since announcing it will consider hiring the Camelot education group to oversee alternative education in the district.

Waleisah Wilson, an alternative education advocate, said her and other parents' ideas wouldn't require any outsourcing, such as hiring qualified paraprofessionals.

"You can get more 'para-pros,'  I think all schools need [them], which is an additional set of eyes in the classroom and to assist and help," she said.

Wilson also said she's glad parents will have a little more time to brainstorm. The MCSB recently postponed its vote to hire Camelot for 90 days, meaning board members and concerned parents will have until mid-summer to come to an agreement on alternative education. Wilson said she, however, feels parents should have been given a fair warning.

"I think we needed more time or just take it off the table completely," she said, "considering they had 18 months, we should have had 18 months to find out alternatives."

Deborah Paris, a concerned parent, said she's also glad there's more time to weigh every option, and carefully look at what the Camelot group will offer.

"I want to hear more, understand more about Camelot and what they're trying to bring here," Paris said she still wants to keep the focus on building better programs using the community's ideas.

"Help give our children what they need, instead of outsourcing," she said.

School board members have publicly said they do agree that alternative education programs need an improvement.

Dr. David Lewis, the district superintendent, said in one board meeting, they have to  "do something different" to improve the quality and effectiveness of alternative education in Muscogee County.

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