Redwood City rehab facility proposes day school

A drug-treatment center for teens, whose bid for a charter high school was vetoed last spring, is now hoping the Sequoia High School District will sponsor its plan for a no-frills community day school instead.

Redwood City’s Daytop Village offers drug and alcohol rehabilitation services to teens from across the state at a facility on Woodside Road. The center has also run a high school education program since 1988, which has intermittently been operated by the county.

Daytop’s proposal — for a community day school that teaches traditional high school subjects to teen clients in rehab — heads to the Sequoia High School District board Wednesday. Under Sequoia’s supervision, the Daytop high school would operate as before, with 30 to 35 students attending classes from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. They will study the same subjects as their peers in bigger high schools and will take state-mandated assessment exams, according to Daytop Director Orville Roache.

“This is a much more realistic focus,” Sequoia Superintendent Patrick Gemma said. “It’s a vehicle by which we provide ongoing education to residents. It’s not designed to provide a college prep education.”

Daytop approached the San Mateo County Office of Education in 2006, asking it to sponsor plans for a charter school for its clients. The county denied the charter, which was also turned down by the Sequoia High School District board in March 2007. Unlike charter schools, which undergo a complicated application process and prepare students for college, a community day school requires less red tape and demands less of its students, according to Gemma.

County and district leaders vetoed the charter plan because it was too ambitious, according to Tom Fitzpatrick, associate superintendent for administrative services in the county office of education.

“They threw in every innovation from the past 25 years,” Fitzpatrick said. “You don’t experiment with kids’ lives.”

In addition, Daytop has run afoul of the county’s probation department. Probation officers pulled four teens from Daytop in 2006 after they discovered places on campus where teen clients were not being supervised by adults, according to Michael Stauffer, deputy chief probation officer for juvenile services.

If Sequoia denies the community day school proposal, Daytop clients would be forced to re-enroll in one of the district’s four high schools — an unfavorable option, Roache said.

The Sequoia High School District board meets Wednesday at 5:30 at 480 James Ave., Redwood City.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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