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Alternative Educational Programs

Vernon Public Schools offers alternative education settings for students with social, emotional, behavioral and academic needs that cannot be met in a traditional, less restrictive educational setting. Students enrolled in alternative education settings benefit from the same academic standards set for all students in Vernon. Alternative education settings are responsive to student needs by providing unique programming, nontraditional hours, or hybrid experiences for students along the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) continuum. These programs focus on students’ individual strengths, talents, social/emotional/behavioral needs and provide academic rigor and culturally relevant instruction.

Our alternative programs are available for students, as recommended by the Planning and Placement Team (PPT), to provide a continuum of services. There are clear and objective criteria for program admission, consistent with stated program guidelines that are provided to students and their parents/guardians at the time of admittance into the alternative setting. The alternative educational programs in Vernon are described below.


Elementary: Renaissance Program at Center Road School

The Renaissance Program is housed at Center Road School and provides a small, structured, restrictive environment for district elementary students who require a higher level of support than a typical public school setting can provide. This special education program services children from all Vernon public elementary schools who exhibit significant social/emotional/behavioral challenges. The focus of the program is on improving students’ sense of belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity in school through a philosophy that “children do well if they can”. There are specific skills that children need in order to be successful in the general education setting. It is our belief that when students lack any of these skills they are unable to participate in school in a safe, respectful way. Renaissance staff focus on teaching skills through collaborative and proactive problem solving. The staff consists of a certified special education teacher, a clinical social worker (LCSW), and several para-educators (approx 2:1 student/para ratio). The goal of the Renaissance Program is to equip students with essential skills so that they can transition back to their home schools, when appropriate. Students typically begin fully self-contained in the Renaissance Program. Once they are meeting their goals in this setting, they slowly transition to high interest classes/activities in the general education setting at Center Road School, with support

Elementary: First Step Program at Skinner Road School

The First Step Program is a district-wide program for our students with mild-to-moderate Autism Spectrum disorders (ASDs) and other Developmental Disabilities. Student placement into this program is determined by the Planning and Placement Team (PPT) using specific entrance criteria, including consultation with a Clinical Psychologist. Entrance criteria are based on research-driven guidelines for the identification and assessment of students with ASDs and related developmental concerns. Students in the First Step program are able to participate in the general education classrooms with varying levels of support; at the same time, provided with opportunities to work on specific skill development through the use of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy. Within the program, all students have the opportunity to learn and grow at their own pace, using a wide-variety of evidenced-based strategies that include direct modeling, visual/auditory supports, discrete trial training, music therapy, social skills curriculum implementation, and positive behavioral intervention strategies. Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and psychological consultation as well as related services such as speech and language, occupational therapy, and physical therapy, are available as determined in the student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

Elementary/Middle/High School: Activities Based Learning

Activities Based Learning (ABL) is a specialized program for children with Autism and Developmental Disabilities. Placement into this program is determined by the Planning and Placement Team (PPT), using specific entrance criteria, including consultation with a Clinical Psychologist. Entrance criteria are based on research driven guidelines for the identification and assessment of students with ASDs and related developmental concerns. Student growth is determined by progress monitoring on Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) including goals and objectives unique to the individual child. In collaboration with speech therapists, occupational and physical therapists, students are offered an alternative educational experience to meet their social, emotional, behavioral, physical and communication needs. In addition, Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and/or Clinical Psychologist consultation is available for students requiring this level of support. With an emphasis on activities based learning and a functional curriculum, students achieve success and personal growth in a safe environment where they strive to gain independent living skills and become productive contributors to society.

Middle School: The Learning Center (TLC) at Vernon Center Middle School

The TLC Program is a special education program for students who require a more intense, highly structured setting with a low student to staff ratio, in order to make effective progress within the middle school setting. The program provides identified students with intensive educational, behavioral, and emotional support that stresses the Growth Mindset in all areas, including academic and behavioral health. The TLC Program provides:

*Academic instruction including:

  • Core classes (language arts, math, science, social studies)
  • Academic support in all areas
  • Remediation of basic reading, writing and math skills
  • Development of compensatory learning techniques
  • General education class support, as matriculation is appropriate
  • Technology will be utilized as part of instructional delivery, exploration of global matters, student-driven inquiry based learning, and as a tool to create connections between community, school and families
  • *Social/Behavioral support including:

  • Point system for progress monitoring and encouraging appropriate school behavior
  • Individualized behavior intervention plans (written with families and staff team)
  • Group and individualized counseling
  • Frequent home-school communication
  • Matriculation into general classrooms, based on consistent target behavior

  • High School: Alternative Special Education Program (ASEP) at Rockville High School

    ASEP is a Special Education Program for students who require a more intensive, highly structured setting with a low student to staff ratio in order to make effective progress within the high school setting. The program provides identified students with intensive educational, behavioral, and emotional support that stresses academic, social, emotional and behavioral growth.

    ASEP Includes:

    1. Academic instruction including:

    • Instruction in specific academic courses
    • Remediation of basic skill deficits
    • Development of compensatory learning techniques
    • Additional support in general education classes as needed
    • Consideration for awarding credit based on a Pass/ Fail grading system as driven by the student's Individualized Education Plan (IEP)

    2. Behavioral management system including:

    • Point system for monitoring appropriate behavior
    • Individual contracts and behavioral intervention plans/behavior support plans
    • Group and individual counseling
    • On-going home/school communication
    • Academic engagement time is determined by the students’ ability to maintain academic and behavioral expectations.

    High School: Total Alternative Learning Center (TALC) at Rockville High School

    TALC is a small, structured, self-contained environment that services students from grade 9-12. It is housed in Rockville High School (RHS). This is a restrictive setting for students with disabilities who exhibit significant social, emotional, and behavioral challenges which have severely impacted their academic performance. The TALC program provides a high level of structure and support to receive educational benefits. The program also services students returning to district from an outplacement setting as a transition where they can receive the necessary support as they transition to a less restrictive environment.

    Group and individual counseling are provided for all students. In addition, crisis intervention, home visits, collaboration with community support services staff and intensive communication with families and guardians are an integral part of the program.


    West Main Learning Center 33 West Main Street Rockville, CT

    Vernon Public Schools provides an alternative educational opportunity to all students under the age of 16, and to students who are between the ages of 16 and 18 who have been expelled for the first time and who comply with any conditions set by the board of education in compliance with Public Act 16-147, § 12.

    Students in the Vernon Regional Alternative Education Center will receive instruction based on a curriculum aligned to the CT Core State Standards5 (CCSS). They will have instruction in core academic classes and Edgenuity educational software will be available to supplement their learning. Students will be able to participate in a program that is individualized and closely monitored in order for them to continue to earn credits.