Conduct change. It can happen when a child has experienced a trauma at home or in the community that elicits emotional responses that may alter their behavior at school. Washtenaw County law enforcement, Community Mental Health, and local public and private schools, have teamed up to help school professionals be on the alert to events that may impact student behavior in school. The launch of the online communication tool, Handle With Care, is February 1, 2018.
Handle with Care is designed to close the communication gap between PK-12 schools and law enforcement. This is how the program works:
- Law enforcement officers gather information about children at the scene of an incident
- Using a special web portal managed by Washtenaw Intermediate School District, they send an email notice to designated individuals at each school district
- The alert informs the school that the child was involved in an incident that police responded to the previous night, and that the student may have academic or behavioral difficulties in the coming days
- No details of the incident are given to the schools
Washtenaw ISD Superintendent, Scott Menzel, said this is a powerful partnership that helps students who have experienced trauma.
“The local educational community and law enforcement have a very positive, cooperative relationship and have partnered on multiple initiatives related to the welfare of our students and staff,” Menzel said. “The Handle With Care program is a logical step to maintaining helpful communications between police and school officials when a student has experienced a traumatic occurrence during non-school hours. When educators are aware of adverse experiences endured by students, they can add another layer of support.”
Washtenaw County Sheriff, Jerry Clayton, says this program aligns with their mission to serve the community and protect the innocent.
“Every day our deputies are seeing children who have been affected by trauma and toxic stress,” Clayton said. “That’s why law enforcement is excited about the notification initiative. Handle With Care bridges the communication gap between schools and law enforcement to better support the children who need it most.”
Two community forums will take place to provide information about Handle With Care. Dates and locations are:
- Friday, February 23, 9-10:00 a.m. at Washtenaw County LRC, 4135 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor
- Tuesday, February 27, 4-5:00 p.m. at Washtenaw ISD, 1819 S. Wagner Road, Ann Arbor