School Comm Hears Plans For New Diversion Program

By Kate Anslinger

CASA (Community Action for Safe Alternatives) Coalition Coordinator, LeighAnn Eruzione was at Monday night’s School Committee meeting to give a presentation on plans for the district’s new diversion program.

The purpose of the program is to find better ways of reinforcing student behavior and replacing suspensions with a professionally led program that gives students healthy and positive alternatives. The program is in its final stages of implementation and will be launching at the end of May.

Instead of offering negative reinforcement and pulling the student out of school with suspensions, the student will be handed over to a team of leaders who will collaborate and help the student find access to healthier alternatives. Upon entering the program, the student must sign a contract and update a reflection sheet that monitors progress.

“I am really excited to be involved in this new initiative in our community,” said Eruzione. “As someone that grew up here, it is important to me that our youth have tools to succeed. The adolescent brain is still developing and we know that one’s judgment is the last to fully develop. I want to help the youth have more knowledge and resources available to them to help them make more positive decisions that open doors for them to lead a more successful journey through life! The Diversion program gives youth an opportunity to do just that- let’s give them tools to be successful- not consequences for poor judgment!”

The pilot idea was presented to the district attorney’s office and was well received. Eruzione is currently working with Winthrop Police Department Chief Terrence Delehanty to set the foundation and get the program up and running. If all goes well, the district would be the first in Suffolk County to adopt the program. Parents that have questions about the Diversion program are encouraged to attend the Social Media, Kids and Opiates event on May 18th at 6:30 p.m. in the Winthrop High School auditorium.

In addition to the Diversion program, there is also hope that more health curriculum will be added to the elementary levels. The results of a risk behavior survey taken by middle school students reflected that there is a lack of knowledge surrounding sex and drugs and the outcomes of use and activity.

“It’s alarming,” said Eruzione. “There is such a lack of knowledge about things that the students really should know. We need someone who can educate them. We will continue with health curriculum at high school, but we really need to bring it down to the elementary level.”

According to the survey results in 2014, 7 percent of 7th graders reported having sex by the age of 13. These kids are in the same building as the 6th graders so it has to be expected that they are talking and getting inaccurate information. The goal is to start health studies at a much earlier age and incorporate daily hygiene lessons in kindergarten that can be as simple as brushing teeth and using soap.

“As a community I think it’s really important that we find ways to bring this into the schools,” said Eruzione.

In other business:

MA Association of School Committees is offering assistance with lead water testing in schools.

Winthrop High School presents The Adam’s Family. The last performances in the building will be shown: Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening at 7 p.m. There will be a tribute to the stage following the last production.

The new preschool at the high school will be named “Lil’ Vikings Preschool.”

Wakefield Movers will begin moving furniture from school as early as June 20th, when teachers finish up the school year.

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