SMILEY -- If you’ve had a child in school, you’ve probably heard the term “alternative school.” It’s a place where kids who don’t conform to school policies and rules are sent to learn to obey the rules and laws. Until this year, students from La Vernia Independent School District (ISD) have been bussed to the alternative education center in Floresville.
A new alternative education campus has opened in Smiley, just down U.S. 87 from La Vernia. The DAEP (Disciplinary Alternative Education Program) facility is housed in what formerly was the Wells Fargo bank. Seven area districts have subscribed to send students to the campus, including Cuero, Gonzales, La Vernia, Marion, Yorktown, Nixon, and Waelder.
Principal Michael Duffek greeted more than 40 educators from these seven districts Aug. 11 during a grand opening event, offering a tour of the Nixon-Smiley Alternative Education Center (DAEP) and lunch in the Nixon-Smiley Elementary School cafeteria that will provide meals to the campus when school starts.
Assistant Principal Jim Davidson -- previously with the Floresville ISD Alternative Education Center -- led the group in prayer prior to the tour, stating, “Learning is power. Learning is not as difficult as the hard work that will result without it.”
Along with classrooms for lessons, the campus features partitioned areas for students to study and do homework. Teachers on staff will offer instruction in language arts, Spanish, mathematics, and science. Lunches will be delivered to the campus by the nearby Nixon-Smiley Elementary School.
Students in the DAEP will have the opportunity to do community service in Smiley and other communities who need it, Duffek said. The campus has a strict dress code and security (see “Keep to the code”).
Staff members at the campus have an average of 21 years in education and more than 55 years of combined DAEP experience.
Duffek emailed his guests after the tour.
“I wanted to take a minute to thank you for welcoming myself and our staff with open arms, and for being so kind,” he said, adding thanks to all whose dedication and hard work brought the program to fruition. “To see the reaction of the districts today brings so much joy.”
As of Aug. 22, 15 students from the seven subscribing districts are enrolled at the campus. Students will be bussed daily from La Vernia to Smiley.
Keep to the code
According to Principal Michael Duffek, the Nixon-Smiley Alternative Education Center (DAEP) will enforce a strict dress code for students.
•Only black or khaki pants are allowed; no denim.
•No cargo pants with side pockets.
•Girls cannot wear makeup or jewelry.
•No piercings, purses, wallets, or cash are allowed.
Three peace officers will be on duty at all times. A metal detector is located at the front door; students may be asked to take off their socks and shoes. Metal-detecting wands will be used to ensure students don’t take hazardous items into the facility.
Random drug searches with dogs also will be performed periodically. Pat-downs also will be utilized.