By Ellen Thompson/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
Havre Public Schools has reached the end of its rope with a few students, so it has made more rope.
Next week, two Havre High School students nearing the final stage of HPS's progressive discipline plan, which often leads to expulsion, will not be expelled. Instead, they will go to the District IV Human Resources Development Council building and work with a teacher on a computer-based curriculum as part of the district's brand new Rebound Program.
"We had to find a place, and a person, and to do it with no money," Havre High School principal Jim Donovan said at a Havre school board meeting Tuesday.
They found HRDC, and they found Michael Mary Brown, whose work at the Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line is funded by a federal Drug-Free Communities grant. Brown is certified in K-8 education, and was suggested for the Rebound Program by the club's directors, Donovan said.
"Where the need is greatest, we've utilized that position," club executive director Krista Solomon said of Brown's duties.
She said she believes the Rebound Program fits that description.
Previously, Brown has organized Red Ribbon Week and other drug-intervention programs for the school district.
The students working with Brown will be using a computer software program called PLATO, which is already used at HRDC to help clients earn a high school equivalency or general education development diploma.
Donovan told the school board that working toward a GED would be an option for the Rebound Program students, but he has always told students the easiest way to get a degree is by going to school.
The students in question have a lot of catching up to do, Superintendent Kirk Miller and Donovan stressed, adding that the software is at a level to help them do that. The Rebound Program is also designed to allow the students to accumulate points that can be used to enjoy certain privileges and possibly re-enter school.
Donovan said returning to school could be a source of motivation for the students.
"It's the social aspect that is keeping some students in school," he added.
Miller said the Rebound Program was put together by administrators in two months after the need became evident at the beginning of the year.
Two students reached a serious disciplinary level only nine weeks into the school year, he said.
Those students, both ninth-graders, will participate in Rebound, and potentially one or two more from eighth grade, Donovan said.
"It's a few more than usual," he said.
Each of the students is also facing legal problems, as well as social problems, he said.
"This is a potential solution for these kids, who are relatively young," Donovan said.
At their age, the students are legally required to attend school. HPS has been working with the Havre Police Department, and police are prepared to bring the students to the program if necessary, he said.
Board member Judy Bricker noted that the students' schedule will include two hours of community service a day.
"If these are kids that are academically slipping through the cracks, why so much time spent with community service?" she said.
Donovan said the students will attend four 45-minute classes.
"If we can get that much out of them, that will be good," he said.
"We'll be adapting the program," vice principal Jerry Vandersloot added. "This is new."