Teacher Raises Concerns About Alternative School

LITTLE ROCK, AR -- A Little Rock teacher is speaking out about an alternative learning school that she says is hurting kids more than it's helping them.

She's a teacher at the Hamilton Learning Academy.

The school's described as an alternative education program to help students not succeeding in the traditional learning environment.

But one teacher -- who didn't want to be identified -- says the Academy is taking in older and more dangerous students and she doesn't feel it's safe.

A large brawl broke out at Hamilton Learning Academy a few weeks ago.

A teacher there told us violence happens often on campus.

She says the alternative school is filled with criminals.

The teacher says there's an 18-year-old who's been in trouble with the law in some 9th grade classes!

She said, "You've got an adult in the class with young women and young men."

The teacher says there are kids at the Academy who want to learn, but she says the problem is sticking them in an environment with adult criminals holds back many of those students.

She said, "I think you're putting other kids at risk and hindering their opportunity when they are in the same classroom."

She also said staff members at Hamilton Learning Academy are not given proper training on how to deal with certain students.

The teacher says that makes reaching goals very difficult.

She said, "To be able to successfully complete high school, to get a diploma, or otherwise they are just becoming statistics."

She would like to see better training and perhaps moving some of the more aggressive, and older students, into different learning programs.

The teacher says administration officials know about the teachers' concerns, but so far have not done anything to make changes at the school.

While the teacher told us she's not getting proper training, the Little Rock School District sent us this statement: "During professional development days and designated Arkansas Education Association days, teachers at Hamilton Learning Academy and throughout the district are afforded opportunities to register for wide-ranging professional development based on their individual instructional needs.  Teachers have the opportunity to decide which specific trainings best help them provide services tailored to meet the needs of LRSD students.  In addition to that, Hamilton offers training that is documented through LRSD's professional development department. External mental health providers also provide training that helps identify mental health disorders among students and strategies for supporting those students. It is the district's commitment to help provide for the academic, social and emotional needs of each student with the goal of ensuring his or her success."

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