Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $914,293)
The Poughkeepsie City School District (PCSD), located in Dutchess County, New York, will implement a violence prevention initiative that includes hiring two full-time Crisis Intervention Workers to provide services for students at Poughkeepsie Middle School and Poughkeepsie High School; provide training for staff in behavioral threat assessment and suicide awareness; and implement an anonymous tip reporting platform.
PCSD serves approximately 4,300 students in seven buildings, including 2,100 students in grades 6-12 at the Middle School and High School. Students in the District face multiple risk factors for violence including high levels of violent crime in the community, poverty, persistent trauma, low school attendance, and poor academic performance. The District is significantly under-resourced to meet students’ complex needs relative to the number of school mental health professionals, with just one School Social Worker per building in the Middle School and High School. The Crisis Intervention Workers that will be hired will be School Social Workers specifically focused on violence prevention, providing services such as assisting students with conflict resolution and anger management; counseling for individuals, groups, and families; working to address problems in a student’s living situation that affect their adjustment and attendance in school; and mobilizing family, school, and community resources to enable the student to learn as effectively as possible. They will also participate in behavioral threat assessment training and interventions.
District-level and building-level Behavioral Threat Assessment Teams will complete training in the Comprehensive School Threat Assessment Guidelines (CSTAG) model of threat assessment and intervention. The Crisis Intervention Workers will also become certified CSTAG trainers so they may deliver this training to future Threat Assessment Team members. These teams will also complete online training in suicide awareness and prevention based on the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale.
Finally, the district will deploy an anonymous tip reporting software that students, staff, parents, and community members can access from mobile platforms in order to safely report threats of violence, including threats of self-harm or threats to others.
Specific objectives include reducing the number of discipline referrals at the Middle School and High School by 5% each year; reducing the number of students who self-report fighting among students on annual surveys; and providing violence prevention and intervention services for at least 50 students and families each year of the project.