District superintendent responds to violence at high school

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POUGHKEEPSIE – Several City of Poughkeepsie police detectives and officers responded to Poughkeepsie High School (PHS) around noon on Wednesday for what has been described as a “large-scale” melee to Mid Hudson News by three students and two staff members.  District Superintendent Dr. Eric Rosser has scheduled a meeting for Wednesday afternoon to gather additional facts.

This is the second incident at the school that has required multiple police units to restore peace.  The first instance occurred last week on the first day of instruction.  Dr. Rosser told Mid Hudson News that “The issues of student conflict amongst certain groups of students that have emerged at Poughkeepsie High School is of concern to the entire school community.”

There are approximately 1,248 students currently registered at PHS.  There are five safety monitors assigned to the high school, which equates to one safety monitor for every 250 students.  In addition, there is a City of Poughkeepsie Police Detective assigned as a School Resource Officer (SRO) that splits time between the middle and high schools.

“Understanding that there has been conflict in the community among school-aged youth, the Poughkeepsie City School District in collaboration with the Poughkeepsie Police Department, Mayor’s Office, faith-based institutions, and other critical stakeholders have been meeting to discuss strategies to employ to address the conflict,” Rosser said in an email, adding  “As articulated by myself, other community stakeholders, and leaders, the work of positive youth development is the work of the entire community and we will continue to collaborate on behalf of our youth and their positive youth development.”

Rosser has outlined additional steps that have been implemented or are in the process of being taken to make the school community safer, including:

  • Positioning the district’s safety administrator at the high school for additional administrative support.
  • Provided additional training to safety officers in de-escalation strategies.
  • Allocated PHS with two additional Crisis Intervention Specialist and one additional Crisis Intervention Specialist at Poughkeepsie Middle School (PMS).
  • Updates to the district’s camera systems throughout the district.
  • Appropriated an additional $1 million + in American Recovery Act funding.
  • Allocated funding to hire additional staff to provide student social and emotional supports.

Additionally, the district has unveiled its “High Needs Student Support Plan” which seeks to assist students who are experiencing difficulties from outside sources, to succeed.  The plan overview can be found here.