Parents worried about private company's involvement in school pr -

Parents worried about private company's involvement in school program in Belleville

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Parents of students with emotional and behavioral disorders in Belleville said they are concerned about a proposed plan in which students would be in a program run by a private company.

Parents in the Harmony-Emge School District said they have been given very little details on the plan. It calls for the students to be bused by a private company to Ellis Elementary in Belleville. Two classrooms will be leased out to Sequel, a private company, and would house 18 student with behavioral and emotional disorders from around the St. Louis area.

“These are kids with severe behavioral and emotional disorders and it would be in the hands of the private company. The school would not have any leverage to deal with that unless they broke this lease agreement,” said Mark Bagby with the group Say No to Sequel at District 175. “Why aren’t we providing for our students instead of leasing out space to a private company that would bus in other students.”

Several hundred parents have already signed a petition in opposition to the idea. There is also a rally planned outside the Harmony-Emge Board of Education meeting Monday night.

The district told parents the students would have supervised interactions with regular students throughout the day.

“These students would come on private transportation, separate transportation, they would arrive in separate entrance. So we need to separate them for transportation and to enter the school, but then one they’re in school they’re allowed to intermix?” Bagby said.

One-third of the students are from the Harmony-Emge district, while the rest would be from surrounding districts. If the school board allows the plan to go forward, Sequel will need approval from the Illinois Board of Education to run the program.

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