Dallas ISD set to close alternative school for over-age students

A Dallas ISD trustee is hoping to stop the official closure of an alternative school for students who are over-age.

The district says closing J.L. Patton Junior Academic Center in East Oak Cliff is inevitable due to declining enrollment and two years of ‘F’ ratings from the state.

The district is set to open satellite hubs for overage students at five comprehensive campuses, but some are concerned that the move will hurt the academic ratings where those students would be relocated.

There are 176 students in the district who are over 20 years old. Dallas ISD trustee Joyce Foreman doesn't think it’s a good idea to concentrate over-age students on comprehensive campuses.

“I don’t like the district is moving 75-100 children who are struggling to comprehensive campuses, which will hurt their accountability rating,” Foreman said.

The five schools are: Carter, Hillcrest, Pinkston, Skyline and Spruce.

Isaac Steen, a grandfather of a Carter High Student thinks there are safety concerns.

“Why would you want our young girls, 14, why would you want them in same facility as grown kids 19-25-years-old?” Steen said.

But Stephanie Elizalde, chief of school leadership, says the concerns are unfounded, because over-age students are already at their home campuses throughout DISD.

“And, in fact, count toward those schools’ accountability without support for success,” Elizalde said.

She said the five satellite hubs will help the district as a whole.

“If ninth graders get behind, the sooner we intervene, the more chance we have of getting them thru high school,” Elizalde said.

Juan Roque says he made mistakes in the past, but is now in a better place academically.

“I actually wanted to quit school,” Roque said. “My first two years I would skip a lot, last year opened my eyes and really wanted to graduate.”

Now he is thankful that Skyline High School is preparing to launch a program next month that will allow him to still graduate, spite being years behind on his credits.

“I'm classified as a freshman, I’m supposed to be a 12th grader. The Phoenix program allows me to catch up to my grade level in a shorter time,” Roque said.

Foreman is holding a community meeting Thursday at 6 p.m. to discuss the district’s over-age program.

The board is set to vote to make the closure official on September 26.