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Ombudsman program up and running in Effingham
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The Effingham County School System has approved a contract to engage Ombudsman Educational Services to offer a second chance for students who have been expelled, have serious attendance issues or would benefit from an alternative learning environment.  

Ombudsman Educational Services partners with school districts to provide an off-campus, alternative education program that offers personalized, computer-assisted learning for middle and high school students facing a variety of issues including truancy, credit or academic skill deficiencies, social and family challenges or learning/behavioral disabilities.

The Ombudsman program is expected to serve approximately 45 at-risk Effingham County School System students in grades six through 12. The program will be located off campus to minimize distraction and facilitate individual attention.

Students who attend the Ombudsman program remain students of the school district.

Randy Shearouse, superintendent of Effingham County School System, helped facilitate the partnership.

“Ombudsman will allow us to have a place where kids can still go to school, and not disrupt the learning of other students or fall behind themselves,” he said. “For example, the students who made mistakes such as not attending class should not be punished academically. Ombudsman can keep students from falling behind in their education regardless of their reason for participating in an alternative program.”

Ombudsman reports an 85 percent success rate among its national student body, meaning students graduate, earn credits or return to their school closer to or on grade level.

Since 1975, Ombudsman has served more than 100,000 at-risk and special needs students. The program currently serves 6,000 students annually at 82 locations in 16 states.

Ombudsman Educational Services is operated by Educational Services of America (ESA), the nation’s leading provider of K-12 and post-secondary alternative and special education programs. ESA is based in Nashville, Tenn., and manages more than 120 schools and programs in numerous states throughout the country to serve children with emotional and developmental disabilities, including autism.

“We look forward to expanding our presence in Georgia and partnering with the Effingham County School System, as it works toward its goal of helping all students earn a high school diploma,” Mark Claypool, president and chief executive officer of ESA, said. “We believe all students can succeed given the right type of instruction, encouragement and environment.”

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