TYRONE - Tyrone Area Elementary School students experiencing behavioral or social problems will not have to leave their home school to get help anymore.
The Tyrone Area School District is starting its own alternative education program for students in grades kindergarten to sixth grade, said Beth Genchur, special education coordinator for pre-K to eighth grade, at a recent board meeting.
The philosophy of the Elementary Alternative Education Program is the kids belong to the Tyrone Area School District and the district wants to care for them, Genchur said.
The program will provide therapeutic and academic continuity, elementary school principal Melissa Russell said.
The district is running the program with Blair Family Solutions, Genchur said. Blair Family Solutions is an Altoona-based practice offering family-based behavioral health services.
The school district will provide a teacher, and Blair Family Solutions will provide a therapist and therapeutic support staff, Genchur said.
Currently the school district sends students in these grades to programs outside the district. A program is already established for students in the upper grades.
High school principal Thomas Yoder said academics can suffer in outside programs where focus is placed on a student's behavior.
The program will begin this school year but is still getting ironed out, said Leslie Estep, director of curriculum and instruction.
The program has a "flexible door," meaning if a student for example is experiencing difficulties behaving in lunch because it is overwhelming, he or she would go to the program during that part of his day, but remain in classes where the student is coping, Genchur said.
With a Tyrone teacher overseeing the academics, the district knows students will keep up on their education, she said.
The program will be housed in the elementary school, Estep said. An emotional support teacher is going to be nearby, Genchur said.
The district decided to start an in-house program because there were two or three times the district has experienced a situation where the outside program could not get a student's behavior under control and has sent the student back, Genchur said.
She said she is excited the program offers another positive aspect for kids who are struggling.
Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030.