Concern Over Behavior At Davenport Alternative School - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Concern Over Behavior At Davenport Alternative School

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Parents of students who attend the Wittenmyer Learning Center in Davenport brought us some cell phone video taken on a school bus. What's seen and heard in the video is disturbing -- a lot of kids yelling on the bus, taunting one another and the bus driver.
The Wittenmyer Learning Center is an alternative school. Some of the kids that go there live at the Annie Wittenmyer Youth Center full-time because of an otherwise unstable family environment. Other students transition into the learning center from other districts because of excessive behavioral issues.
It's a school where students can get individualized attention and counseling, as well as an education -- an opportunity not offered in every district or community.
So, why are some parents angry about the environment there?
Lesley Felgenhauer's daughter goes to school at Wittenmyer Learning Center. Like other students, Felgenhauer's daughter was placed there by DCFS. But she says her daughter is not picking up any good examples of how to behave --
"Kids cussing, kids getting ready to fight. Nobody is learning anything," said Felgenhauer. "How can anybody learn anything in this school?"
"The same thing was going on with my son," said Cheryl Van Pelt, whose son goes to Wittenmyer Learning Center. Van Pelt said her son was been beat-up on school grounds --
"He's being hit in the head outside the school with book bags and being talked to very meanly," she said. Van Pelt's son is captured in one of the videos sent to KWQC. One of the students on the bus is heard threatening him.
"Monday he refused to ride the school bus home," she said.     
Some parents are convinced that this learning environment is hurting their children's chances for change. But local officials tell KWQC that this may be the best chance many of these kids have at a brighter future.
"I like the program that they have because it affords these students an opportunity to get an education and actually deal with their behavioral issues," said Davenport Police Asst. Chief, Maj. Don Schaeffer.
For every three students at Wittenmyer, there is at least one teacher. In comparison with a traditional classroom, that's a lot more one-on-one time. There's also on-site counseling available to students struggling with emotional issues.
"When you see their programs that they go through on rehabilitating these kids," said Schaeffer, "it's an excellent program."
Still, the concern among some parents remains.
"Not only are they unstable but they're put in an unstable environment," said Felgenhauer, "and you expect them to work their way out of this school."
"I think the parents need to take the responsibility for the children's behavior," said Schaeffer, "their upbringing."