Turning Point Academy teachers want more resources at their school

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Teachers from Turning Point Academy approached the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District (CMS) Board recently requesting assistance and support.

Turning Point Academy is the district's alternative school. It provides a setting for students who have behavioral problems and some who have even been arrested.

"Because all the disciplined students are sent to us, we are faced with gang fights, assaults on our staff, and other student threats to our staff and other students," teacher Stephanie Collins-Frempong said. "We are traumatized and afraid."

Teachers say they have reached a boiling point.

"Our physical, mental, and emotional health is under assault daily," Collins-Frempong said. "And we are at our wit's end."

Teachers not only want relief for themselves but argue the district needs to do more to provide the necessary support for the students who attend the alternative school. They believe if that happens their job could get easier.

"They are not getting the help they need to go back and function well in their mainstream settings," the teacher said.

Workers question if the district is providing enough social workers and counselors for the nearly 200 students who attend Turning Point Academy. The concerned teachers want CMS to step in. CMS Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox says he wasn't surprised by what's happening at the alternative school. He says he will address it, but first he wants to understand the challenges the school faces.

"If it is more social workers," Wilcox said. "Then we got to understand that. If it is more psychologists - some other positions, we have to understand that."

The superintendent says while the district learns if more counselors are needed, his attention will be on the staff already at the school.

"We got to make sure the people who are there feel supported from the school system," the superintendent said.  "That is something we can begin immediately."

School Board member Thelma Byers-Bailey is concerned about what is happening at the alternative schools. She recently toured it and talked to employees.

"I sat out there for two hours listening to them," Byers-Bailey said. "Just pour out their hearts to me."

Facilities are also a challenge at Turning Point Academy. The alternative moved into the old Paw Creek Elementary School last year. Students who attend the Turning Point are in upper grades.

"Moving us to a facility that was built to house elementary children has only led to other problems," Collins-Frempong said.

Byers-Bailey claims the district didn't keep some of its promises when it moved the alternative school to the new location.  It promised it would take care of the faculty and provide resources for the students.

"We got to do better by those kids," Byers-Bailey said.

Teachers want immediate attention. They say they can't go on like the way things are.

"It feels more like a detention facility," Collins-Frempong said. "Instead of an alternative educational program."

Wilcox says he will soon get back to the board and let them know what needs to be fixed at Turning Point Academy.

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