Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $933,662)
The Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) project will target the nearly 600 students in grades 6-12 annually assigned to the District’s alternative program. Ninety-two percent of students assigned to the alternative school have participated in physical aggression, violence or weapons related behaviors. African American students are twice as likely to be assigned to the alternative school which mirrors beliefs regarding the school to prison pipeline.
Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) is one of the largest school districts in the United States. With over 144,000 students and 178 schools, providing a safe and orderly school climate can be challenging. Local law enforcement is reporting increases in violent crime in our area. Many of the disagreements that occur in neighborhoods or on social media are breaching the school door. In 2018, a neighborhood dispute resulted in a student being killed in the hallway of one of our schools.
For the 2021-2022 school year, a record 30 weapons were reported on CMS school campuses. This represents a 26% increase from the previous record in 2018-2019. The sense of safety for our students and staff has also been affected by the increase in fighting and aggressive behavior.. A May 2022 analysis of student discipline data indicated that 22.45% of all problem behavior incidents in grades 6-12 was for fighting and aggressive behavior. Additionally, forty-eight percent of all student discipline incidents occurred in the classroom. The root causes of the rise in violent behavior is multifaceted. Many of our students are experiencing lingering trauma from neighborhood violence, school bullying and school closures.
This BJA funded project will reduce the cycle of violence for youth that are chronic perpetrators of violent acts on school campuses. The project will apply a tiered case management model which utilizes prevention and intervention strategies. The well researched school practices of PBIS and Restorative Practices will be interwoven to increase the impact of the student case management model. Unique to this violence prevention model will be the use of emotional regulation skill development, goal setting and extended case management to provide youth alternatives to committing acts of violence. By providing long term, intensive support to high risk students, we will reduce school violence and impact the overall school climate of Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools.