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Petition hopes to keep Riverside School open

January 14, 2013
A Bonners Ferry mother has launched a petition to keep the Riverside Alternative High School open, and in just two days and with little fanfare, 110 people have affixed their digital signature.

Last month, the school board, citing requirements imposed by the state, elected to close Riverside High on Thursday, January 24, and assimilate the 26 students in attendance there into classes at Bonners Ferry High School. The board will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday, January 15, at Valley View Elementary, and many of those who have signed and commented on the petition plan to address the school board on the issue.

The on-line petition can be read and signed by clicking here.

"The Boundary County School Board has voted to close our ONLY school for disadvantaged/homeless, struggling teens in the county," Fairchild, who has a son at Riverside, wrote in the petition. "Their plan is to close a school with emotionally handicapped kids in the middle of the year, taking away their only safety net. The board says this is because the state of Idaho is forcing their hand, when in fact the state of Idaho has given 35 schools several options to 'turn-around' and raise their test scores, and we are the only district closing our school."

People from throughtout the region have signed the petition, which is to be presented to Idaho Governor Butch Otter. The goal is to obtain 2,000 signatures.

"Children learn in different ways," wrote Linda Richardson, Naples. "Some, like our son, can't absorb and process the lessons in a large public school setting. He needed more one on one with his teachers, which he got at Riverside High School. They worked with him in a way he understood, and he was able to earn his diploma. I want other kids with special situations and needs to get the opportunities our son did. He has grown into a strong, competent, hardworking man with a bright future. This would have been much harder for him had he not earned that all-important diploma. We are grateful, and firmly support keeping Riverside High School open. It is a win win project for our community."

"There are several youth in our Independent Living Program who were served by this school in the past several years," wrote Teressa Ruiz, Coeur d'Alene. "These youth would not have been able to complete their high school diploma's without this school. This school also provided them a safe and supportive place to go in times of great need."

"The big picture needs to be considered here," wrote Wilma Wallace, Bonners Ferry. "Riverside offers an option to a group of students that gives them the opportunity to rise above the situations they are currently in, and become self supporting members of our society. The alternative is kids on the streets, no job opportunities, and in legal trouble. This can not be the best choice financially. It is much wiser to keep this desperately needed alternative school than suffer the consequences of closing it."

According to Fairchild, attempts to discuss the closure with school administration have fallen on deaf ears.

In fact, she said, with the slated closure just over a week away, she said neither she nor other parents of Riverside High School have not yet even been formally notified of the closure, or told how they can help their students make the transition, which, she said, requires the completion of six additional credits for graduation, a burden students who are seniors at the alternative school can't hope to reach by graduation this year.
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