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School will take on only dropout students

January 09, 2001

School will take on only dropout students



By SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer


Role Models Academy officials have promised Department of Labor officials they will stop accepting students who are not dropouts, according to a Labor Department spokesman.

During a Dec. 11 meeting with Labor Department officials, Role Models officials also promised to review the school's enrollment procedures and existing recruit files to make sure they are accepting only students who meet the eligibility requirements, said Ira Sockowitz, with the public affairs office of the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration division.

Sockowitz said Wednesday that Labor Department documents state a student must either:

- Be a high school dropout.

- Have a secondary school diploma or its equivalent, i.e. a GED, but be unemployed.

Students who are still in school but have poor grades do not qualify under the criteria.

Role Models officials promised to examine their files on current students and will meet with Labor personnel again in the near future, Sockowitz said.

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Role Models officials did not return phone calls left Jan. 3, 4 and Monday.

During a ceremony in early December, Role Models hand-picked five students for reporters to interview.

Three of the five told reporters that they were not dropouts at the time they decided to switch to the school at the former Fort Ritchie Army base. A fourth said he was being home-schooled but did not indicate if that was a voluntary decision.

In addition, Denice Williams, of Williamsport, said her son, Andrew, joined the school's program after having trouble in school. Andrew was not a dropout.

In interviews and company literature, academy officials have repeatedly called Role Models a school to help dropouts get their high school diplomas and move on to college.

In December, officials said they had 50 students and planned to have another 25 to 50 students starting with this next session.

Classes are scheduled to start this week for the next trimester.

New class size information is not available since calls and e-mails asking for that information were not returned. The school has not released requested information on what percentage of the students are dropouts.

Sockowitz said the school has just one two-year grant for $10 million, but Role Models President Robert Alexander has said he believes the amount promised is $20 million.

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