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Monday, November 12, 2012 - 11:30am

School Officials Warn Private Company

Updated: 2 years ago.
District officials say they want better results for the money. They're paying the company, called Ombudsman, about $2 million to run programs for middle and high schoolers with discipline problems. (photo Bill McChesney)

Chatham County school officials want a private company to improve its program for students with disciplinary issues.

They're one semester into a contract for alternative schools but already seeing problems.

The district privatized its alternative schools to shore up the budget.

It now sends about 200 students who have been suspended or expelled from regular classes to a privately-run half-day program.

But violent fights and poor test results continue.

Site director Tyree Simmons says he expected hiccups in the school's opening months.

"I'm optimistic about where the program can go from here," Simmons says. "I think that we're being diligent about looking at the areas that we need to improve and finding the resources to improve those."

But school officials say they won't wait much longer for a turnaround.

Simmons says the company didn't expect problems with facilities or transportation, but discipline needs time to improve.

"I think that with any fledgling program or process, you go through the point of having some hiccups and situations in which you need to come back to the table and reassess exactly what you're doing and how you're doing it," Simmons says.

They've given the company another semester to show improvement or face losing their contract.