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East LaFollette Learning Academy new site for alternative school

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By PETER SAWYER

The Campbell County Alternative School is now operating at its new location at East LaFollette. It moved there Oct. 29, but renovations were complete by Oct. 1.
“Everything was finished, we just had to have the fire marshal approve it,” school board member Johnny Byrge said.
“It’s a brand new building,” Principal Ronnie Lasley said. “It gives a better atmosphere for the kids to be working in. It’s a great improvement.”
The East LaFollette Learning Academy is able to hold about 100 students.
“We’re staffed to do about 50 to 55,” Lasley said.
The staff includes three teachers, Lasley and an aide.
There are currently 40 students enrolled. The alternative school includes students from the middle schools and high school.
Students enrolled at ELLA are there for different reasons; some are discipline-related and others are academic.
“We blend well together,” Lasley said. “My kids aren’t bad kids. A lot of people have a stigma that all we have are ruffians, but 98 percent of my kids, I’d go hunting or fishing with. I’ve seen success in the program.”
In the Campbell County school system there is a zero tolerance policy for drugs and excessive fighting, Lasley said. After a student is involved in a fight, he or she is suspended for five days. After the second fight, the student is suspended for 10 days and then sent to the alternative school.
“They’ll have to do their time if they’re here for zero tolerance, but they also have to perform academically if they’re here for zero tolerance,” Lasley said.
Other ELLA students are behind in their coursework and are seeking to catch up in order to graduate. Some who have gotten on track have chosen to stay at the alternative school, Lasley said.
“We have good structure,” Lasley said. “They always are under observation. We always insist that they (are doing) something.”
“That’s one thing I noticed is they’re always busy,” Byrge said.
Though it hasn’t been used yet, the gym at the ELLA is available for the alternative school’s use.
“I have a handful of kids that come through that need P.E.,” Lasley said.
Now that the alternative school has moved to the ELLA, the old building in Ridgewood was auctioned for $91,000. The Campbell County Board of Education must approve the sale.