School Board Advocates for Recovery Schools

Due to the rise in drug and alcohol use, this week the Montgomery County Board of Education heard a presentation from MCPS staff and held a discussion various options to reestablish a recovery school in Montgomery County.

According to the synopsis of the meeting, recovery schools provide students, who have committed to recovery and sobriety, an environment in which they may complete school coursework without the peer influences in a comprehensive school that may have contributed to the initial substance use.

In 1979, Montgomery County established the first recovery school in the nation, the Phoenix School. At its height, the Phoenix School maintained Silver Spring and Gaithersburg campuses that served approximately 50 students. During its last year of operation, the 2012-2013 school year, three students were enrolled in the Phoenix School.

Montgomery County Public School staff are currently investigating two models for a recovery school. One model is a single district approach to only serve MCPS students. The other model incorporates a regional approach to serve students in MCPS and neighboring districts, such as Frederick, Howard, and Prince George’s county public schools.

The recovery school could enroll approximately 50 students, age 14 through 21 years (or Grades 8 through 12) who have committed to maintain sobriety. Students could be referred to the recovery school by the Substance Abuse Services Coordinating Agency (SASCA), substance use treatment programs, families, or self. Students would be able to participate in a combination of traditional classroom instruction and online courses to complete high school graduation credit requirements. Additional courses would be offered such as physical education, health, technology, and electives; individual, group, and family recovery support sessions; coping and social-emotional learning skill building; and health, wellness, and mindfulness strategies.

Board of Education members unanimously approved the following resolution regarding recovery schools:
“Resolved, that the Board of Education include in its legislative platform, advocacy for the opening of a regional recovery school or a series of regional recovery schools; advocate for the resources to open and support such a school or series of schools; advocate with the legislature and the governor to that end; and seek other support from Maryland Association of Boards of Education, Montgomery County Council of Parent Teacher Associations, and Public School Superintendents Association of Maryland to advocate this effort; and that this effort should include not only the school systems and Maryland State Department of Education, but also other entities, such as the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.”

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