Jacksonville, schools balk at suspension costs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Jacksonville and the Duval County public school system are facing off over who should pay for a program both agree has helped keep tens of thousands of kids off the city streets.

Alternative to Out-of-School Suspension (ATOSS) serves around 600 students per month and offers students a voluntary alternative when they are suspended to school.

Since the program's 2009 launch, suspensions have dropped, and graduation rates have risen. Yet local leaders say they may not be able to keep paying for the $1 million program. Jacksonville pays most of the costs. Duval Public Schools shoulders a third.

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The Bridge, one of five sites throughout the city, provides behavioral and academic assistance for one to ten days. Students continue school work assignments under the supervision of a DCPS teacher. Each site is equipped with a social worker, truancy officers and a certified teacher.

The Florida Times Union on Sunday reported the city says suspended kids are the district's responsibility. The district says keeping kids out of trouble reduces stress on the city's law enforcement resources.

Michelle Quesada, First Coast News, contributed to this report


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