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Strict Disciplinary Academies attempt to break the “school to prison pipeline”

Oct 30, 2017

What happens to a school's biggest so-called troublemakers when they get lengthy suspensions or are kicked out altogether? Where can they go?

One place is Lighthouse Academy in Kent County. It's mission statement: "Creating hope through academic success in spite of life's storms."

Lighthouse Academy is one of nine Michigan charter schools that are Strict Disciplinary Academies (SDAs). They're designed to help rehabilitate students who are getting in trouble and struggling in the traditional school setting.

Lighthouse Academy Superintendent Heidi Cate joined Stateside to discuss the academy, which just saw its 200th high school student graduate.

“We do a lot of therapeutic services and life skills and job skills programming along with the academic education to give them a diploma that they earn,” Cate said.

With small class sizes and an approach that tackles deep issues, Cate said that the staff at the academy “become like a secondary family to them.”

“To me, it’s turning around that cycle so we not only don’t feed that school to prison pipeline, which these kids I think are at the greatest risk for, but hopefully we break that generational cycle so that we have successful students and adults in the future for our community,” Cate said.

Listen above for the full conversation.

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