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By the end of the 2010-2011 school year, there were over 4,500 reported incidents of violence in Philadelphia schools. This figure did not fully reflect the extent of the school safety crisis, as many daily occurrences—ranging from school bullying to assaults on teachers—were not reported. At the time, the District was using a variety of mechanisms to address school violence, including “zero tolerance” policies, video cameras, metal detectors, heightened security presence, and referrals to the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. While some schools had implemented evidence-based positive behavior supports, the District needed a better understanding of where and how these approaches were being used and what impact they had. In addition, the District needed a clear mechanism to provide ongoing training, support, and direction so that successful interventions could be sustained.
Through her Stoneleigh Fellowship, Jody Greenblatt worked with the School Reform Commissioners, District leaders, and youth-serving system partners to develop a comprehensive school safety and climate strategy.
This Stoneleigh Fellowship enabled Jody to:
- Catalogue what programs were already in place within the District as well as their costs, effectiveness, and ability to be replicated.
- Increase cross-systems collaboration to address school climate issues. She engaged various City departments, including the Department of Human Services, the Department of Community Behavioral Health, and the Police Department, as well as multiple units within the Philadelphia School District, including the Research and Evaluation unit, the Teacher Effectiveness unit, and the Office of the Superintendent.
- Help create a revised Student Code of Conduct that is less punitive and is framed around interventions and alternatives to suspension. The new Student Code of Conduct was informed by input from a range of stakeholders, including students, parents, teachers, principals, assistant superintendents, the District’s legal team, the truancy and human resources offices, and the chief of school police.
- Develop a school climate tool to assist schools in creating climate plans. In addition to developing the tool, Jody and a team of internal and external experts traveled to schools to train principals on how to use it.
- Help the District to integrate “trauma-informed” practice at all levels. Jody conducted principal trainings focused on improving school climate, eliminating bullying, and implementing the revised Student Code of Conduct. She also collaborated with the Philadelphia Police Department to ensure more than 100 police staff completed Youth Mental Health First Aid training.
- Ensure the ongoing sustainability of the work by establishing a dedicated leadership team to monitor the fidelity of implementation of these initiatives and to identify opportunities for practice expansion.