Christa McAuliffe Learning Center provides alternative learning environment

By Sam Elliott | Staff Writer

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Students with discipline issues and infractions are sent to RISD’s Disciplinary Alternative Education Program at the Christa McAuliffe Learning Center. Students are placed in CMLC due to the district’s disciplinary management strategies.

“Christa isn’t really that bad of a place,” said one student who attended there. “Before you go, you hear stories about it, and it sounds like it’s gonna be a bunch of hard gangstas. In reality, it’s just a bunch of dumb kids who got caught drunk at a football game or smoking weed in the school restrooms.”

A student is placed in CMLC for Category 2 offenses or persistent violations of Category 1 offenses as defined by the Student Code of Conduct, available on the RISD website.

“The worse part about Christa is that there aren’t a whole lot of kids taking AP classes,” said the student. “So, they’re not given a lot of attention. The teachers just gave me the assignments my Pearce teachers sent over, and I worked on them alone. But even six weeks later, I’m still struggling to understand the major concepts I missed in my AP class.’”

At Christa the students are in smaller classrooms with a lower student-to-teacher ratio, so students in AP classes have to learn on their own.

“The best reason I can think of sending kids to Christa is to get them out of a bad situation,” the student said. “If you beat up the biggest kid in school, people are gonna look at you differently. Go to Christa for 40 days, and by the time you get back, everybody’s settled back down and things are back to normal. You forget what you were even mad at them about.”

When considering expulsion, the district reviews a variety of factors. These factors include self-defense implications as it relates to the offense, intent of action, past history of misbehavior and disabilities.

“And I don’t really know if there’s a way to change that. CMLC does exactly what it’s supposed to do, and all the resources are there. It’s up to the kids to decide whether or not they want to take advantage of it,” the student said.

The placement of students is one of the techniques the district employs when disciplining students. Overall, the object of discipline is to improve conduct.

“Although Christa is supposed to be a second chance, we don’t learn anything even from the lectures,” another student said.

Every Monday, there are “Life Lessons” counseling where the students go listen to guidance counselors talk about their behavior.

“Kids wander behind buildings and smoke before school,” the student said. “And a lot of them are probably going to go back to doing the same things that got them to Christa once they get out.”

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