Pennsylvania’s system of Alternative Education for Disruptive Youth (AEDY) is intended to serve children who display behavior problems in school; however, the state has done little to ensure that alternative schools provide quality instruction to their students. In addition, children of color and children with disabilities are overrepresented in many alternative education programs. Many families, juvenile probation officers, child welfare case workers, and other advocates have expressed concerned that school districts simply send students to AEDY programs when they are too difficult to teach in mainstream education settings; however, there has not been the capacity to collect and analyze all these stories in an organized manner.
Through her Emerging Leader Fellowship, Marnie Kaplan worked with the Education Law Center to review and analyze quantitative AEDY data from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. She also gathered qualitative data through interviews with alternative education providers, students, families, probation officers, case workers, and advocates. She synthesized these findings and developed policy and practice recommendations addressing needed improvements in Pennsylvania’s AEDY programs.