Milwaukee to provide alternative school for victimized students

BY admin

March 08 2005 1:00 AM ET

Plans are under way to open a charter school in Milwaukee with a focus on students who feel discriminated against or bullied. "I saw a lot of students who were being bullied and no one was doing anything about it," said Tina Owen, a teacher at Milwaukee's Washington High School who will leave her job to become the lead teacher at what will be called Alliance School. Owen said some students who look and act different from the mainstream are "really tormented."

The teachers for the planned school say their goal is not to isolate or segregate students but create an environment where students feel safe and can learn how to go back out into the community and fight discrimination.

The concept for the charter school, which is publicly funded but has more autonomy and flexibility than most traditional schools, was approved last spring. Students are being recruited through school counselors. A site for the school, which will serve about 100 students, has not yet been determined. "Oftentimes the sheer size makes it very difficult" in traditional schools, said Nicole Powers, a teacher who devised the concept of the school along with Owen. "I think there are caring teachers and administrators and counselors in every school in the city, but they might be dealing with thousands of kids, and there are policies that the students had no say in and they had no say in," Powers
added.

Ashley Werner, a lesbian who has been a student at Milwaukee's Pulaski High School, said she intends to attend Alliance during the next school year. "If you are even remotely different, [the students] harass and make fun of you," Werner said. But Owen and Powers say they do not want the school to serve solely gay and lesbian students. (AP)

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