District aims to train all schools in Restorative Practices, a program to build positive school climate and culture, by the end of the calendar year
Detroit Public Schools today announced reported incidents are down 21 percent overall on school campuses for the first half of the school year – from September through February – as compared to the same timeframe last school year. This decrease is in conjunction with the districtwide launch of a program to build a positive school climate and culture on school grounds.
The decrease in reported incidents continues a trend of improved campus safety.
According to data compiled by the DPS Police Department on the district’s schools and buildings, reported incidents dropped from 687 to 545.
The percentage of reported serious incidents dropped in most categories, including misdemeanor assaults (down 10 percent from 97 to 87); felony assaults (down 9 percent from 22 to 20); sexual crimes (down 22 percent from 18 to 14); threat reports (down 3.7 percent from 27 to 26); violation of knife ordinance (down 42 percent from 7 to 4); stolen vehicles (down 12.5 percent from 8 to 7) and breaking and entering/larceny of a vehicle (down 30 percent from 39 to 27).
The decrease in reported incidents is consistent with findings from recent parent surveys in which Detroit Public Schools’ parents have reported a high rate of satisfaction regarding the safety inside their schools.
“We know that we cannot do this work alone. That’s why we have expanded our collaboration with key stakeholders not only within the DPS family – including our own police officers, citizen patrollers, academic team, principals, staff, parents, students and our contracted security officers – but among outside partners and police agencies,” said Police Chief Stacy Brackens, who took the helm of the department in October 2014.
A key new initiative involves the districtwide implementation of a program called Restorative Practices in every school as part of a comprehensive effort to build positive school climate and culture on school grounds and in the area around school zones, said Sheryl Jones, Director of the Detroit Public Schools Office of Social Studies. Jones is leading the effort to train district staff.
“Restorative Practices training was provided to all of the high schools in August just before the school year began,” Jones said. “We have been circling back to all of the high schools to provide follow-up training. Staff and principals are reporting that they are seeing the benefits of Restorative Practices in building a positive school climate and culture by establishing better relationships, a sense of community and a way to repair harm.”
The United States Department of Education and the Michigan Department of Education recommended Restorative Practices and Positive Behavior Intervention Supports to assist schools in achieving social discipline and improving school climate, culture and student achievement by:
- Reducing crime, violence and bullying
- Improving behavior
- Improving leadership
- Restoring relationships
- Repairing harm
Detroit Public Schools began Restorative Practices training of District employees last spring with the goal of having the entire district trained in Restorative Practices by the end of this calendar year.
Positive Behavior Intervention Supports (PBIS) and Michigan Integrated Behavior and Support Initiative (MiBlSI) are two additional models that have been and will continue to be implemented throughout the district.
Additionally, Jones said the improvement in campus culture and climate could be attributed to Project Safe Campus (Crime Stoppers), a key initiative of the district’s Teen Leadership Institute (TLI). TLI is a citywide youth organization that gives students experience in governance.
“The reported tips to Crime Stoppers have tripled already this year from last year during the same timeframe,” Jones said. “We’ve had Project Safe Campus assemblies at nearly every high school, and Crime Stoppers normally receives tips within 24 hours of an assembly.”
Principals report that the assemblies serve as a great deterrent because students know that someone may anonymously report their misconduct, she said.
Tips have been provided regarding drugs, bullying, vandalism and more, Jones said.
Other ongoing initiatives to improve campus safety include enhanced customer service between the DPS Police Department and schools; ongoing youth seminars on contemporary issues facing students, such as bullying, sexting, and life skills behaviors; enhanced in-school relations between students and campus security officers, which has helped officers to pre-empt escalating issues; and joint training with principals and security officers to forge closer relationships, Brackens said.
The district also continues to seek additional citizen volunteers to patrol areas around campuses heavily populated by students.
While parents indicate they generally feel schools are safe, a 2013-14 survey of more than 7,000 DPS parents showed many were more concerned about the routes that students must travel going to and from school.
Brackens called for more volunteers to join the effort. There is no minimum number of days required per week for citizen patrollers, but volunteers are asked to commit to at least one of the full-time slots. To volunteer, call (313) 240-4377.