What is unique about the recovery high school model?

Three components exist: coaching, counseling and academics. Recovery coaches are staff members who teens can relate to and who have experiences with adolescents. They are considered to be team mentors, cheerleaders, and advocacy in recovery. Licensed counselors are available onsite to provide additional support. The school’s academic team helps students achieve the ultimate goal of receiving a diploma in a safe and sober environment. All students enrolled in the school are recovering from substance use disorders.

Are there other public recovery schools throughout the nation?
  • 40 recovery schools in the U.S. spread across 15 states (8 are in Texas; 2 are in the greater Houston area); most are private.
  • 2 are operated under ISDs: McKinney ISD (Serenity High School) and Laredo ISD (Jose A. Valdez High School)
  • All recovery schools in Texas use a combination of private and public funds.
  • The recovery school in Texas most similar to HCDE’s proposed school is the Serenity High School in McKinney ISD, which partners with other ISDs in the area to provide a recovery environment for students.
  • HCDE’s recovery school will be the first of its kind serving students in the Houston area and the third public recovery school in Texas, after Serenity and Valdez high schools.
Why are recovery schools critical for students who have received treatment for addiction?

The risk of relapse is higher when students must return to their pretreatment schools. One study found that nearly all adolescents returning to their old school were offered drugs on their first day back. For many adolescents, schools represent the environment of previous use and contact with using friends.

Researchers have concluded that post-treatment or continuing care is essential to recovery – especially for youth. While adolescents have many of the same issues as adults, they are statistically more susceptible to fatal injuries from motor-vehicle accidents, suicides, homicides, violence, delinquency, psychiatric disorders and risky sexual practices, as well as physical, sexual and emotional traumatization. Adolescents with a history of substance use disorders are not surprisingly, at an even greater risk.

How will students be selected for the recovery school?

HCDE will use the criteria of students stage of change, student treatment experience, and student interviews in selecting students. Districts may purchase seats through the interlocal process (similar to how they currently purchase seats at our Highpoint and AB Campuses). During its first year, the recovery school will offer 30 seats, with plans to grow to 60 seats and 90 seats in subsequent years.

How does the student gain enrollment into the school?

The student must be referred by the Harris County school district, so a parent or guardian would need to contact the student’s home district.

What about transportation?

For the first year, transportation will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Does the student graduate from the recovery school or the home high school?

When a student gains the diploma, it is issued from the home school district. However, students may participate in either ceremony for graduation purposes, or both.

Which school calendar will HCDE follow?

HCDE gathers all participating school calendars and decides on a schedule which benefits the majority of the students. The calendar will ultimately be one devised by HCDE administration.

Will students be drug tested?

Yes, random drug tests will be conducted. Appropriate measurements of treatment enhancements will result from such testing.

Will the recovery school officials work in partnership with the outside therapists who may already be working with the students?

Yes, the recovery school’s counseling team will work in harmony with the students’ therapists. Students and parents will have to sign a release form so that the school’s counseling team and outside therapists may communicate with each other regarding the student’s recovery status, progress, or other related concerns.

Will it be possible for students to graduate “on time” by attending the recovery high school?

Yes, it is possible for the students to graduate on time while attending the recovery school by regaining any academic credits that may have been lost.

How long can students attend the recovery school?

Ideally, students will remain at the recovery school for the remainder of their high school years to receive a high quality education in a sober environment.

How are addiction issues addressed to encourage continued sobriety?

Individual, group sessions, and other case management services are provided daily. Counselor and / or Recovery Coaches will be available to provide case management services.

Referrals will be made for co – occurring disorders.

Counselors will be cultural responsive to their students by individualizing their counseling approach as necessary, avoiding assumptions based on cultural differences, identifying cultural issues that affect client recovery, and understanding differences in attitudes, beliefs, values, and communication styles.

Addressing case management needs (family, financial, transportation, educational, medical, etc.) can be done with Counselor or Recovery coach.