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Alternative Education Programs

Alternative Education programs are designed to provide increased focus on social emotional learning and direct behavioral and academic support for students requiring additional interventions. HCPSS currently has school-based alternative education programs in 34 schools as well as the countywide secondary alternative learning center and evening school offerings.

Services Offered

All alternative education programs provide a focus on social emotional learning skill development, academic and behavioral supports and interventions, intensive case management services, enhanced parent outreach, and frequent progress monitoring.

Other common features include increased support from staff, focus on relationship and belonging, professional learning for staff, frequent contact between school and home, and learning strategies and approaches individually designed to meet the needs of students.

Program Tiers to Alternative Education

School based alternative education programs include three tiers of support based on student need. Tier one includes proactive strategies and interventions that can support and benefit all students. Tier two includes more targeted and individualized proactive and responsive strategies and interventions. Tier three includes student support plans with data collection, root cause analysis, and progress monitoring. For secondary students, the Gateway program offers another tier of support for students who require a smaller setting with more intensive supports for a short or long term basis.

Additional Programs for Students

Evening School and Innovative Pathways

The Innovative Pathways Evening Program provides educational services through Evening School for current grade 9-12 students:
  • Seeking to recover credit for missed/failed courses.
  • Interested in taking additional classes to advance their studies.
  • Who are on long-term suspension or who have been expelled from school but are under 18 years of age.
More information about Evening School and Innovative Pathways is available online.

Referral Process

School Problem Solving Teams

School problem solving teams including elementary and middle school Instructional Intervention Teams (IITs) and high school Student Support Teams (SSTs) are responsible for referring students for alternative education services. These teams initiate social, emotional, academic and behavioral interventions prior to referring a student for alternative education services and support. If these initial intervention attempts, designed for implementation within the student’s assigned classroom, are not successful, the problem solving team may decide to request intervention from the school-based alternative education program (AEP).

Request for Consultation

At all levels, there are processes in place for school based problem solving teams to request consultation and support from designated offices. The requests for consultation could lead to increased school based options and supports, professional learning, and higher level interventions. At the secondary level, a request for consultation could lead to the Pathways Team which considers options for placement at the alternative school.

The Reinstatement and Enrollment Committee (REC)

The REC reviews and makes placement decisions regarding students 18 years of age and older who have dropped out of school and subsequently request re-enrollment. The REC also reviews the needs of older students who have had an extended break in their education for reasons beyond their control. This includes foreign-born students who have recently arrived in the United States and are residing in Howard County.


For more information contact the Office of Alternative Education Programs at 410-313-1291.