Wednesday, December 9, 2015

CPPAC: DA's office and school safety

that eventually segued, as it so often does, into budget

Ellen Miller from the DA's office
same programs year after year in schools
raise awareness
opioid epidemic: task force to connect everyone
Q: a lot said about role of social media in schools
"we do full talks about technology"
"truth is we can almost not keep up with technology changes"
first question to kids is what technology they're using
"we're not going to get ahead of the kids today on technology"
tip was keep in it the public areas; doesn't apply anymore with mobile devices
"having more and more luck in tracking it down" in anonymous threats
"nothing is ever truly deleted"
creating a digital profile that follows you
Q: opioid crisis, Worcester has created recovery high school; how is DA integrating into process?
task force breaks down into subcommittees, recovery high participates
have been having them come and present about what it means
recovery high school currently has 23 students; capacity is 50
sending district responsible for tuition for students
Rob Pezzella, school safety liaison
"involves a lot of responsibilities"
crisis response system for every school
"what do you do after you call 911?"
safety guides for every teacher, kept in their desks, covers situations that might happen
have had some high profile shootings across the country; plans for intruders
"fully equiped to keep everyone safe"
proactive to make sure we rehearse those procedures with principals
principals have emergency response teams
two sites for evacuation
medical emergency plan:
schools purchasing AEDs; 100% of schools have them now
bullying plan in place, reporting and investigative procedures
safety audits done in school buildings are safe and sound
outside full safety audit coming at next week's School Committee meeting
police officers in high schools: 5 officers at 5 comprehensive high schools; 2 assigned to middle schools
route and patrol officers for elementary schools
full time gang unit officer available upon request
"they report to the chief; they're responsible to their chain of command"
Rodrigues: we didn't add more police officers to the schools
"instead of the four officers who have with us for fifteen years...instead of being in the high schools in the morning and then" going to other schools in the afternoon
two more to be floaters this year for the middle schools
"we added to complement the ones who were in the" comprehensive high schools
"not talking about a uniform who don't know how to take care of teenagers or younger children...very capable people"
called police liaison
national association of school resource officers: create other interactions within the school (both officer and administration are trained)
looking into the training all over the country; looking to bring to Worcester, as will have 20-25 people involved
under no circumstances are these jobs the first responders; they are not the disciplinarians
"want to make very clear"
"if there's ever anything that" was out of line, would be the first to call for them to leave, and that would be conversation with chief
Pezzella: school administrators can't become agents of the police
police can't be called in to search a kid under direction of adminstration
Q: are there opportunities for them to interact in a positive manner?
Pezzella: until they've had the training, some have been in assemblies
"they are trying to immerse them in the everyday culture of the buildings"
Q: are students informed about their role, not enforcer, but to keep them safe?
Pezzella: "I know the parents have at monthly meetings...don't know" if there have been meetings with students
There haven't. And the parents haven't been informed either.
memoradum of understanding meet with chief
Q: you feel that they are safer with the police there?
Pezzella: professional opinion, feel with police there have deterred fights without arrests
"extreme situation, will call school resource officer down"
getting more specific with the numbers around disruption of school assembly, a few arrests
"police don't keep the numbers that we do"
based on number of calls for that address in their records
now "I'll be submitting reports regularly to Dr. Rodrigues" for police interaction
PD "has to let me know"
response from public: "I don't think that's solving the problem..."
Rodrigues: fights have always happened in our schools
question is how quickly can we intervene to not get people hurt who intervene
having police at school was in response to crazy media response to what was happening
"our schools have always been safe...we work with human being...they're volatile"
have been hearing officer for long-term suspension
student said "we'd rather fight inside the school, because we know someone will break it up"
students feeling diminished by public perception and adult rhetoric
"how can incorporate these services in a more productive can we work together, because it's a community"
"how do we educate our young students to be different than in the past"
"it exists, and we have to educate ourselves how to do better"
"does the presence of the police officers solve everything? We're not saying that."
in a few months could we scale down? if the community supports that
Q: other communities putting emphasis on wraparound services; ideally can work with needs of students
Rodrigues: eight of our schools have a wraparound coordinator
"data suggests that it's a powerful thing...sole purpose to connect families with services"
75% of our students are eligible for free or reduced price lunches
10% of our students are homeless; 65% of them are doubling up with other families (imagine the impact on other families)
"kids would come to school and already be out of their mind in the morning" as families are doubling
"not enough hot water with everybody, there's not enough food...and then we want them to come to our schools and be ready to learn"
proportion come to school and are ready to blow
middle school student walking home after dark through a neighborhood, have to protect themselves, how do they do that, who they associate with may be their answer
Q: is there a plan to meet that need? and maybe it is to get away from that police officer situation
Rodrigues: plan is this: you've all heard about the foundation budget review commission
question is what the Legislature will do about it
imagine that you got a job, but they told you how you're going to spend your salary; quickly release that you can't get to the end of the month
"today, if we were to follow the foundation budget the way it is, we'd have 660 more teachers"
but it goes to health care..and elsewhere
game plan for wraparound? If we had the money, we'd have wraparound everywhere.
"I'd be frontloading K, 1, 2 with speech, OT, PT...55% of kindergartners are English Language Learners"
three resettlement agencies: 300 families arriving every year in Worcester
"the budget that we're going to be discussing with you is not looking good already...flat enrollment, inflation is slightly negative"
"what are we going to cut?"
class size in elementary, "disgusting amount--it makes me sick--" of students in high schools in studies
"they're agreeing with everything I'm saying"
Legislature has to take action "to get us some relief"
"next year, it's about cuts, it's not about enhancing anything"
"the money is not enough to respond to the demands of this district"
every other community will give above net school spending: "it's us, Brockton, and five more" doing zero above
essentially, thus, advocacy needed at state and local levels

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