GFPS launching alternative to expulsion with grants

The Great Falls Public Schools district has received a grant through the Montana Board of Crime Control to create the Cooperative Alternative to Expulsion Project, or CAEP, as a way to create alternate pathways for students who find themselves in trouble with the law or school policy.

Outgoing superintendent Tammy Lacey told the school board during their June 10 meeting that GFPS received a $84,300 Title II from the Montana Board of Crime Control, a grant that can be renewed annually, and will be combines with $60,000 to $70,000 annually from Youth Court Prevention Incentive funds, which can also be renewed annually.

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Lacey said the program will serve students aged 12-17 who violated the law or school policy and will be based out of Paris Gibson Education Center.

The program’s four prongs include:

  • restorative justice with restitution or community service;
  • continuing academic progress toward a high school diploma or equivalency with a focus on goal setting for post high school education in college, career or the military;
  • therapeutic services to address substance abuse or mental health; and
  • parenting classes

Lacey said the district has already hired a full time certified teacher and will include two institutional assistants. Alluvion Health, through an agreement, will provide mental health and addiction counselors.

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Incoming superintendent Tom Moore said during the meeting that they’ve expelled students in the past and didn’t feel good about turning them loose without an alternative.

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He said they researched programs in other cities, including those in Bozeman and Kalispell to develop the GFPS program that will launch for the next school year.

Lacey said it’s not just the school district, but involves multiple agencies.

“It’s all of us working together,” she said.