ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Albemarle County Public Schools (ACPS) is using a new approach when it comes to handling drug and alcohol suspensions for middle schoolers.

The school system is not making a change in policy, but rather a change in practice with the Teen Intervene program partnership with Region Ten.

Instead of receiving a 10 day out-of-school suspension punishment for having drugs or alcohol, students will get a three day in-school suspension, and then enroll in Teen Intervene. ACPS Director of Student Services Nicholas King says this gives students useful information about substance abuse, as well as supervision.

"Remained connected to their school communities, remained connected to their teachers and administrators, and hopefully not get behind academically, which creates its own kind of cycle that we certainly want to prevent," King said.

"It’s not just experimentation or going with the crowd. Often there are reasons behind substance abuse that may be related to anxiety, or depression, or other mental health problems that we need to be addressing," Region Ten Director of Prevention Emily Warren said.

This is a pilot program, and the school division with study this year's outcomes. If successful, Albemarle County Public Schools will launch a similar system at its high schools.