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Deer Trail Academy dissolves; Oxford Schools to take over



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July 09, 2014 - By default, Oxford Community Schools is taking over the education of Crossroads for Youth, after Deer Trail Academy (DTA) decided to "close their doors" a few weeks ago due to financial reasons.

"Financial viability is the reason I believe the (DTA) board (voted for) the termination. They did not make their enrollment goals this year," said Maria Dockins, president of CS Partners, the Brighton-based education services provider, who was in partnership with DTA. "That's how they make their money, (through student enrollment)."

Located on the Crossroads for Youth campus on E. Drahner Rd. in Oxford Township, DTA was a charter public school that opened its doors in September 2013 and catered to students in grades 5-12 placed there by the court system, county juvenile agency or the state Department of Human Services. It also served students who had been either expelled or placed on long-term suspension from other schools.

While the timing of DTA dissolving has caused a certain level of chaos as Oxford Schools is trying to get old funding resources restored and grants submitted, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Dr. James Schwarz said they are "looking at it positively."

"I think we look at it as (having) opportunities on the horizon to make a difference for kids," he said. "These are kids who really need assistance in making a difference (and) we're certainly glad to be providing that service."

As for the educational environment, Schwarz said they are "creating something entirely different" from what they had out there before, which will include both seated classroom and online learning.

"We think it will be a more efficient and a more effective model for them," Schwarz added. "We're also looking at career-prep type classes for them and more vocational type, trades type preparatory classes that we're going to put in the mix."

The anticipated 50 students will also be broken down into smaller groups of 10-12 and be on a rotating schedule of different classes throughout the building, instead of all staying together like they were before.

"Each classroom will have a teacher and a paraprofessional," noted Schwarz. "The amount of individual attention, I think will be greater and I think it's easier for them to function in a much smaller setting and smaller group."

Crossroads for Youth President Dr. Janet McPeek said she is "grateful" that Oxford Schools is there to take over, but still feels bad that DTA dissolved.

"From my perspective, there aren't any bad guys here. Everybody tried very, very hard," added McPeek. "It was a great dream, it was a great effort. There was nobody involved who wanted anything more than to do great things for kids. There were wonderful success stories and kids who were tremendously helped, but financially it couldn't be sustained."

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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