CMS adds mental health sessions for middle schoolers in alternative school

The services are included in a new partnership between the school district and a local service provider.

Thompson Child Family Focus in Matthews.

Thompson Child Family Focus in Matthews.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is hoping a change in environment and dedicated resources will help middle school students attending Turning Point Academy, the district’s only alternative school. Rather than sharing space with older students when school begins on Aug. 27, middle schoolers serving short-term suspensions will report to a new site on the campus of Thompson Child & Family Focus — a children and family services provider — in Matthews.

In CMS overall, the percentage of students with one or more out-of-school suspensions increase from 6th grade to 9th grade, according to the district’s “Breaking the Link” report released earlier this year. Suspensions also disproportionately affect black students, who are suspended more than any other group. Like many districts across the country, CMS is reevaluating disciplinary measures that take students out of the classroom.

At Thompson, students will take classes with CMS teachers and focus on mental health in therapy sessions with staff clinicians.

“An integrated academic and mental health model will help us better reach students who have specific difficulties that are hindering their development,” said CMS Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox.

According to a press release, the Thompson program is part of a larger district-wide effort to more fully meet the social and emotional needs of students. The Board of Education approved the five-year partnership at its July 20 meeting.

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