Successful OSS program is back thanks to funding

A partnership between the Erie School District and two local non-profits aims to help students suspended from school.  

In all four Erie High Schools during the 2016-2017 school year, 186 students had to serve anywhere from a 4-10 day out of school suspension.  1,740 students served a half day to three-day suspension.  Those numbers are the reason why an out of school suspension program is so important to Sonya Arrington, of Mothers Against Teen Violence.  Arrington tells us, "when they get suspended it's like a reward to them.  They enjoy going home, sleeping in, playing video games and causing problems in the street".

But, not at the Booker T. Washington Center.  Arrington's group, along with Erie's Public Schools and the BTWC are starting the OSS program to give these students a place to go during the day, while their parents are at work to do their homework, among many other things.

Shantel Hilliard, Executive Director of the BTWC says, "we are going to do... a holistic approach.  We are going to do homework, we are gonna do life skills and mentorship, this is an absolute game changer".

Program directors stress that this is not a place where they can come and hang out with their friends, but a place where they can continue their education so they don't fall behind".

Superintendent Brian Polito says, "this really gives us another opportunity for us to connect with the students who may have behavioral issues or be struggling academically, this gives us another way for them to get back on track for graduation".

While this is not a mandatory program, Hilliard hopes the reputation of his center will convince parents to send their children there.  "We have been in the community and doing services for over 93 years so the community trusts us. So, to come here and receive services and be that bridge to the district...."  The program was a success a few years back but stopped due to a lack of funding.

Thanks to a grant from the Erie Community Foundation, the program will return with the hope of more investors coming on board. Applications have already been passed out to families.


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