More than 1,000 alternative learning students in Ottawa could be forced back into the regular school system, if the school board approves a plan to phase out its alternative programs starting next year.

Parents and students are speaking out against the proposed changes. Some say if the proposal is approved, they will move their kids to other school boards.

The chairman of Ottawa's alternative school advisory committee says the school board needs to realize that phasing out alternative teaching will hurt students. He says every child's way of learning is different and the regular school system isn't necessarily the best option for everyone.

"That doesn't really work for a top-down bureaucracy that wants a one size fits all model that assumes kids are all the same and plugged in like little pieces of a jig-saw puzzle," said Richard Deadman.

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board was not available to comment on the recommendations. However, CTV Ottawa obtained a report that indicated Manor Park Public School would be the first school affected. There is already a deadline set for September 2011.

If the school board votes to adopt the recommendations, four elementary schools and one intermediate school will lose their alternative program designation. They include:

  • Churchill Alternative School (primary)
  • Grant Alternative School (primary)
  • Lady Evelyn Alternative School (primary)
  • Riverview Alternative School (primary)
  • Summit Alternative School (intermediate)

As programs are phased out, students would be reintegrated into the regular school system, possibly being forced to move to other schools.

Alternative programs in Ottawa classrooms date back to 1982, giving students of all levels a different approach to learning. The programs offer a tailor-made approach to learning, with less emphasis on grades, more parent involvement, as well as grouping based on development -- not age.

The proposal to phase out alternative programs will go before an education committee on Jan. 18. If it is approved and has the support of at least one school board trustee, the recommendations will go before the full school board for a vote on Jan. 26.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's John Hua