Fresno Unified revises plans for DeWolf high students

The Fresno BeeApril 2, 2014 

The Fresno Unified School District has developed a new option for certain students at DeWolf Continuation High, which will move to a different campus next year.

A plan pitched last week -- which is part of the district's proposed overhaul of alternative education -- would have sent 26 current DeWolf juniors back to their neighborhood high schools next year. Now, officials say, those students will have the option to stay at DeWolf's program.

District officials previously said the new DeWolf, which will be relocated next year to the current Phoenix Secondary site on West Dakota and North Pleasant avenues, would only serve fifth-year seniors struggling to get all their graduation credits. DeWolf currently serves juniors and seniors and once served even younger students.

The proposal immediately drew the ire of teachers and students, who said they fear loosing their school community.

Kevin Tarver, a 17-year-old DeWolf junior, gave an emotional appeal to the trustees at their school board meeting last week, pleading with them to revise their plan.

"We will not let you silence us and take away our home," he said.

Officials are now making adjustments: A district memo says DeWolf juniors now will have the option to continue at the program, switch to Cambridge High alternative school or transfer to their neighborhood school.

"We're continuing to have discussions and developing this program so it's very possible there will be continued change along the way as we present this to the board for their approval," said Brian Wall, assistant superintendent for school support services.

Trustee Carol Mills said she's pleased with the changes.

"It seemed to me that there were only 26 juniors and I didn't feel at this stage their education should be disrupted further," she said.

Other concerns remain.

Trustee Michelle Asadoorian said she's worried about another part of the overhaul, which moves Phoenix Secondary community day school to the southeast side of town and expands the program from 60 to 180 students. That's simply not enough, she said, especially because DeWolf's program for younger students will go away after next school year.

"In a district this large, we have to provide a wide array of options for students to choose from," she said. "My expectation is we provide a sister school to Cambridge for kids on the west side of town because not all kids belong on our comprehensive high schools."

The board will vote on the alternative education package later this year.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6412, hfurfaro@fresnobee.com or @hannahfurfaro on Twitter.

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