New Wine opens school for behavior problem kids

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE — A school designed for students with behavioral problems that carries a faith and discipline-based academic message will continue for the 2005-2006 school year, after completing a pilot program.

New Wine Christian Academy will accept students who have been expelled or have dropped out of St. John Parish public schools, and will focus on character training and respect for authority.

Rev. Neil Bernard, of the New Wine Christian Fellowship, said the school is an effort to curve the drop out rate among junior and high school students in St. John. The school accepts students from grades 7th through 12th, and will begin in August.

According to the state department of education, 180 students dropped out of St. John parish schools in the 2002-2003 school year, with 138 of those students being from East St. John High alone.

Last year’s pilot program for New Wine Academy had 28 students, and, according to Bernard, all except one student stayed with the program. This year, 60 students are enrolled so far, and the academy will not exceed 75 students.

“We will wait to see the need (before we grow)”, Bernard said, “and we will weigh things out.”

Bernard also said the academy needs to make sure they can provide the classroom space and teachers to fully accommodate the students.

The school will work without the legal restrictions of public schools, allowing prayer, diverting from the state curriculum guidelines, and enforcing corporal punishment.

Bernard said the discipline tactics would be effective in molding the students to respect and obey their teachers, which will result in a structured learning environment.

“Once they learn to follow rules and guidelines, they are able to learn,” Bernard said.

At a school board meeting held May 5, Bernard proposed a collaboration between the New Wine Christian Academy and the St. John public school system, primarily for funding reasons. The two institutions have frequently worked together in the past.

Board Member Russ Wise said he is not sure when the board will vote on the proposal, and he believes Superintendent Michael Coburn is working on the details.

Wise said he takes no issues with the idea of the school, but did stress concerns of it being non-accredited.

“I’d like to see accreditation from the state,” he said, “We don’t want to see kids not getting credit for the classes they take.”

Bernard said the academy and the school board will still have a working relationship, whether the parish funds the academy or not.

Bernard said he finds the public has been supportive, and he sees many single parents willing to spend the $180 a month tuition because they think it will be worth it.

“People in the community say it much needed,” Bernard said, “and we’ve been having parents calling constantly.”

New Wine is still accepting applications. Call (985) 653-0008 for more information.