Students at Redirection Center will experience redirection

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 22, 2009

By David Vitrano

RESERVE—Redirection is defined as changing the direction or course of something. Students assigned to St. John’s Redirection Center will experience that meaning both literally and figuratively during the 2009-2010 school year.

The Redirection Center, where students who have been expelled from their regular school receive their education until they are able to return, is moving from its former Garyville location to the former science building of Leon Godchaux Junior High School in Reserve.

Enabling the move is a grant from ResCare, an organization dedicated to helping those in need. The district partnered with St. James, Ascension and Assumption parishes in writing the grant.

“This move will better allow us to better implement Positive Behavior Support and, therefore, redirect the students behavior as the name of the school implies: Redirection Center,” said St. John Superintendent Courtney Millet.

“Furthermore, this will eliminate having adult students on the same campus as middle and high school students,” she added.

The Adult Education Center will now be housed in the former Redirection Center in Garyville.

According to Millet, the structure that will now house the Redirection Center is “basically structurally sound…however, because of years of neglect in repairing and cleaning, some areas of work had to be done.”

After the junior high closed about seven years ago, the building was used as an in-school suspension center, but in recent years has only been used for storage.

Among the repairs being made are the installation of a new ceiling and air conditioning units, wiring to accommodate intercom and security systems and new wall coverings along with a variety of other cosmetic improvements. According to Assistant Superintendent of Administration and Operations Herbert Smith, work on the structure should be completed by Aug. 1.

Millet estimated the total cost of these improvements at $80,000.

The new Redirection Center will feature separate classrooms for fourth through eighth graders with one large classroom serving all high school students. The new center will also make use of the large science lab that is already part of the building.

Under the new structure, the maximum student-to-teacher ratio will be 15 to 1, said Smith. In past years, the Redirection Center has housed an average of 120 to 125 students at any one time. This structure can accommodate a maximum of 150 students.

One change students sent to the Redirection Center this year may notice right away is the amount of time they must spend there. Previously, there was a 45-day minimum stay, but this year, under the guidelines of the ResCare grant, students must stay for no less than 90 days. The amount of time a student must spend at the Redirection Center varies with the infraction committed, according to Smith.

At the last school board meeting, a number of board members voiced concern over being left out of the process of deciding to move the center; however, according to Millet a letter was sent to each of them on July 1, and none had stepped forward to voice any concern until that time.