Alternative Education

Not just an alternative, but an opportunity.

As early as 1984, the Tennessee General Assembly passed a bill authorizing the establishment of an alternative school for students who were having disciplinary problems. In 1992, the General Assembly mandated that one alternative school be established for each local school district to serve suspended and expelled youth. The Tennessee Department of Education works to help districts ensure that quality alternative learning environments are created for students. The Department coordinates activities of both the Study Council for Alternative Education and the Governor’s Advisory Council for Alternative Education. Both entities work alongside Department officials to improve alternative education in Tennessee and to serve as an advocate for students and teachers in alternative school settings.

LEAs should use the model standards for alternative education linked below as guidelines to create effective local policies and procedures related to alternative schools and alternative education programs.

Model Standards for Alternative Education Programs

It is our pleasure to announce the schools that received recognition as exemplary for alternative education. They are Bartlett Bridges Alternative School, Bartlett City Schools; Gordon K-8 Achievement Academy, Shelby County Schools; Ridgedale Alternative School, Knox County Schools; and, Clinch River Community School, Anderson County Schools.

Additional Information

The department, in partnership with the Governor’s Advisory Council for Alternative Education and the Tennessee Alternative Education Association, has established the Exemplary Practices in Alternative Education Recognition Program to recognize the efforts of districts who exemplify high-quality alternative education services.

Once the application has been reviewed, members from the team will conduct a site visit to the school or program. If selected, the school or program will be endorsed as a model program to guide other districts across the state and will receive state and local recognition. For further information about the program, please contact Pat Conner at

Over the last several months, the Governor’s Alternative Education Advisory Group, in collaboration with TEAM Evaluation, has been working to develop guidance around suggested best practices in claiming for alternative educators. The advisory group’s recommended guidance is as follows:

  • In order for an alternative educator to claim students, the students should have spent 30 percent of their year (about 60 days continuous instructional availability) in an alternative school.

The Governor’s Alternative Education Advisory Group has suggested several general recommendations for alternative educators:

  • Schools should avoid sending students to alternative schools for 5-10 day suspensions. Students should be remanded to an alternative school for an appropriate length of time for learning to occur.
  • Whenever possible, the student’s transition back to the home school should occur at a natural break, such as the end of a grading period or semester.

These recommendations are not a mandatory requirement for alternative educators and/or alternative schools or programs.

The Governor's Advisory Council for Alternative Education is comprised of 10 members including parents of children attending an alternative school or who have attended, teachers, principals, members of local boards of education, community representatives, and a member of the Tennessee Alternative Educators Association. Appointments are made by the Governor for a term of 3 years. 

The Advisory Council is charged to do the following:

  • Consider any issue, problem or matter related to alternative education presented to it by the Governor, the Commissioner, or the State Board of Education, and give advice thereon.
  • Study proposed plans for alternative education programs or curricula to determine if the plans or curricula should be adopted.
  • Study alternative education programs or curricula implemented in Tennessee school systems to determine the effectiveness of the programs or curricula, and alternative education programs or curricula implemented in other states to determine if the programs or curricula should be adopted in Tennessee schools.
  • Consider rules of governance of alternative schools and make recommendations concerning rules of governance.
  • Make an annual report to the Governor, the education committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives, the Commissioner of Education and the State Board of Education on the state of alternative education in Tennessee. The report shall be submitted prior to February 1 each year.

Advisory Council By Laws

Alternative Education Advisory Council Meeting Agenda - August 19, 2020

Governor's Advisory Council for Alternative Education Members
Name Position
Kay Davenport
Chair Person
Major Shelton
Vice-Chair Person
Bryan Douglas Secretary
Karen Ball Council Member
Chris Liner Council Member
Momodou Keita Council Member
Tonya Jennings Council Member
Jay Stetzel Council Member
Danny Bounds Executive Secretary

Next Meeting: