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Winter 2009 Vol. 17 No. 3 Focus on School Climate

A growing expulsion pipeline

Photo: Harvey Finkle

Students get ready to start the school day at Philadelphia Learning Academy South, one of two new alternative District schools for students who have been expelled or are awaiting an expulsion hearing.


Wendy Harris

Unlike some 11th graders, Kyle Mechin knows exactly what he would like to do after high school.

“I want to go to UCLA film school. I want to be a horror movie director,” he said.

An A and B student at Swenson Arts and Technology High School, Mechin was on his way to achieving his goal. He was taking a digital media arts class to learn filmmaking, and was encouraged by news that a friend who took the same class received a full scholarship to the college of her choice because of her work in that course.

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West: More talking and less fighting

By by Ron Whitehorne

It’s the period before lunch in the tiny office of Christina Taveras, student advisor for the 9th grade academy at West Philadelphia High.

A girl enters quietly. “Miss, I need to talk to you. That girl called my house and wants to fight me.”

Taveras goes to work. Over the next 45 minutes, she establishes a truce of sorts by speaking with the two antagonists and getting them to promise to keep talking to each other. It isn’t easy.

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Behavioral health supports are expanding in the District

By by Ruth Rouff

A child’s emotional state can have a profound impact on his or her ability to learn, as any classroom teacher knows. Emotional issues often lead to problem behaviors.

With many of the District’s 167,000 students coming from stress-filled environments, the District and the city Department of Behavioral Health have been collaborating to increase access to school-based behavioral health programs for District students.

Today, almost 100 schools have teams of behavioral health staff, and more than 11,000 students received school-based services last year.

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