MNPS considers closing Johnson School by next year

Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 10:05pm

A school housing dozens of high school students with emotional disorders could close next school year, according to a Metro Nashville Public School official.

District officials said the decision to close Johnson School is not yet final. But MNPS Chief Operating Officer Fred Carr said the district is considering the closure and is determining exactly where those students would be sent in the fall if the school is shut down.

“We’re looking at how we can better serve those kids,” said Carr. “We’re also looking at adding some other programs into that building, what programs can we consolidate into that building that would make use of the facility.”

With roughly 50 special education students, Johnson School houses some of the district’s most difficult-to-teach high schoolers, including those who exhibit characteristics of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Each student has their own individualized education program, known as an IEP, which lays out educational goals for that student given their disability.

The school is located just south of downtown on Second Avenue and Chestnut Street. Students attend the school from around the district, but up until this year, their standardized test scores were reported with their home school because the school was considered a program. This is the first year the institution has been designated as a school, according to MNPS.

Students could be integrated into a program like Spectrum Academy, a contract school that handles students with serious behavior issues and developmental disabilities, or integrated into a specialty program at another traditional school.

“They wouldn’t all go to one other location,” Carr said.

Johnson School’s goals include “improving student's behavioral adjustment, self-esteem and social skills; increasing self-control and problem-solving skills; helping students explore and understand their feelings; preparing students for successful transition back to their school of zone and/or post-secondary life,” according to MNPS’ school profile.

The decision to close the school is up to the district’s central office and does not need approval from the school board, according to Carr.

5 Comments on this post:

By: JeffF on 2/21/13 at 9:19

Very scary that MNPS would consider this a good idea. These kids have problems regular special ed programs at the other schools just are not equipped to deal with. In many cases these kids are still bright and not needing the help in academics, but these programs help them with the coping and adjustment skills and protect them from the regular student body that tends to inflame the issues of these kids.

I hope Metro is not planning on throwing these kids into the mess of the other schools.

By: gatormikey on 2/21/13 at 10:42

The people who dream this stuff up should be placed in a special school. To put these kids back with the regular student body and move them from where they might feel some level of security is ludicrous. Bad, bad idea.

“We’re looking at how we can better serve those kids,” said Carr.


By: global_citizen on 2/22/13 at 8:14

Shut it down and send those kids to a juvenile detention facility where they belong. I used to work with MNPS and I've been in Johnson. The kids there have issues far beyond what anyone at MNPS or Centerstone is capable of dealing with. Show me one kid who's made one iota of progress by being sent to Johnson.

These are kids who've decided from a very early age that the only way they're going to be noticed is to be as menacing and disruptive as possible. By the time they're in high school, that mentality is so set in it's never going to change. Johnson is just a training camp for the Davidson County Correctional Facility.

By: teach4change on 2/22/13 at 8:37

This speaks volumes about the cities, and the nations, systematic failure to effectively manage the mental health crisis. Its not surprising that the United States incarceration rate dwarfs other countries. We don't rehabilitate anyone, just spend insane amounts of money on locking them up. Not to mention the racial and socioeconomic data on who receives support and who doesn't. I'd love to know the race and financial status of the student population at Johnson, but I digress. It would cost the tax payers far less to offer these children extensive supports in the schools than to pay for their juvenile detention bill. Not to mention that other peoples comments implying they are all criminal is a gross over statement of what the article says these kids are receiving services for.

The question is really who is this better serving? If the students need that much support then dumping them into the already over taxed high schools seems to be a backwards approach at improving anyone's education. General Educators have been crying out for help with special needs kids but the district just keeps cutting. Inclusion is not a place its an educational approach, with more support for teachers and students, but MNPS hasn't figured that out yet. I'd love to know what supports or programs they plan to offer. Its MNPS so we will probably never hear another word about where these kids end up.

By: Specter47 on 2/22/13 at 9:37

Why close it? I say let Fred Carr direct the school, and leave the kids where they are. Place more kids there who disrupt other schools, and free up the educators elsewhere to teach kids who want to learn. Carr never had an original thought, and his fearless leader Jesse Register very few, so let Carr demonstrate his vast knowledge as to how to educate these children. We just can't wait to see how you do it, Freddy!