Columbus advisory council works to create alternative school solutions

COLUMBUS, Ga. — In the wake of the failed controversial Camelot proposal, a Columbus Advisory Council is working to come up with alternative school solutions.

News 3 caught up with members of the Columbus Advisory Council. Some mentioned they were recognized as a council, on the same day the Camelot proposal was voted down, back in May. The group is comprised of Camelot supporters and opposers. They say they’re putting their differences aside, for the good of the children, specifically those with special needs.

Months ago, Muscogee County Superintendent David Lewis proposed paying $6.4 million a year to Camelot, a for profit company based out of Austin, Texas. Despite multiple reports of abuse that surfaced surrounding the company. As a result of the proposal, the Columbus Advisory Council was formed. Some members say, when it comes to assisting students with behavioral problems, the resources to do, are right here at home.

“Many problems that we have today because people were committed to educating children. The community was involved in a real way and our children also had a sense of hope about their future,” says Dr. J. Aleem Hud.

Other members of the council say, they supported Camelot. Lisa Jenkins shares why she hopes the council can come up with ways to best service, what they call, children in need.

“I was called by a parent whose child a very young child of eight years old..beat her and attempted to kill his sister with a screwdriver,” says Lisa Jenkins.

Jenkins says the child she’s referencing suffers from behavioral problems. News 3 is working to independently confirm this incident. She says, he’s just one of the many students in Muscogee County that could have benefitted from Camelot. Meantime others say, the millions of dollars that could’ve been spent on Camelot, could go toward the AIM program here in Muscogee County.

“They need certain educators, psychologists…cultural pedagogy is the best way to teach a child about who they are so that’s going on over there at AIM,” says Tonza Thomas.

Others are encouraging teachers in the community to speak up, about ways to help the council serve the kids.

“A lot of people don’t want to talk but I guarantee there are more teachers and there are more people in that school that have negative things to say..because they see it everyday,” says Waleisah Wilson.

There are more than a dozen people on the advisory council. Monday, they will meet with the school board, getting official recognition, as a council within the school district.

Lisa Jenkins wrote a statement for the board that she plans to present. Read the full note below.

“A goal, if not the goal, of this committee needs to be to find an appropriate treatment model for children who are severely, emotionally disturbed. The primary concern for these children should be treatment of their medical issue(s). The education agreement is important, but in their case, the medical component is most important. Schools are not medical treatment facilities. Such a facility or program needs to be found. Teachers are not therapists. Appropriate treatment models exist.” – Mike Edmundson, Lisa Jenkins, Bart Steed

“As for discipline, there needs to be an effort to not merely separate students from general students population, but a means of developing a normative culture that focuses on the root causes of the serious discipline issues.” – Lisa Jenkins

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