Syracuse City School District Extends Student Support Outside the Classroom

The “Supporting Our Students” program allows the Syracuse City School District to meet the goals of its new strategic plan, supporting students and increasing engagement with families. ©️ 2018 Sam Rothman

Click the play button to find out about how the new partnership between the Syracuse City School District and the Syracuse Police Department is helping students who experience trauma at home. 

Audio Transcript: Supporting Our Students

By Sam Rothman SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — The Syracuse City School District is teaming up with the Syracuse Police Department through a new program that provides support to students who witness violence in their homes. Through the “Supporting Our Students” program, if children under the age of 18 are mentioned in a police report, the school is immediately notified so counseling services can be provided.

“I just hope they realize that the resources are there for them,” said Susan Boyle, Syracuse Common Council member and Education Committee Chair. “It’s not a cure-all, but it’s part of our arsenal of tools that we have. I just hope that we can make a difference in some kids’ lives.”

The SOS program has done just that. Since the program began last month, 20 incidences of domestic violence were reported to schools, and each student received counseling the next day.

Boyle initiated the program to establish a line of communication between the police and local schools. She said schools must be aware of what students are going through outside the classroom, so they can better understand the children’s behavior inside the classroom.

What happens typically that draws our attention to the problem is behavior related,” said Boyle. “Often times we won’t know that a child is struggling until they’re in trouble. So we want to try to just get ahead of issues like that and give kids the nursing and counseling that they need before it becomes more of a difficult situation.” 

Boyle believes that if students don’t receive the proper treatment after experiencing trauma, they may start to normalize the violent behavior. She said the SOS program works to prevent disciplinary issues in the future.

“I don’t want them to think that this behavior is okay and normal,” said Boyle. “I think when it’s not addressed immediately by people who care about them, I think they do normalize and it and repeat it.”

Michelle Evans, Syracuse City School District Director of Student Services, points out that sometimes it is hard for adults to help students because they may not be aware of the situation. Evans said the program is extremely important because some students are scared to ask for help. However, by having the school support staff already aware of the situation, she said it helps students earn their trust.

“While our goal is to support all of our students, there are times when we don’t know students might need this additional support,” said Evans. “What we do want to be able to do essentially is to reach all of our students and support them with whatever they need, socially and emotionally. I think this partnership with the police department allows us to do that.”