County and city to help school district to combat violence

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Dutchess Executive Marc Molinaro, podium, outlines effort collaborative

POUGHKEEPSIE – Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison, and Poughkeepsie City School District Superintendent Dr. Eric Rosser met Friday afternoon, to address the violence that has plagued Poughkeepsie High School since September.

On Monday, two teens were apprehended after discharging a firearm in the faculty parking lot of the high school.  The suspects are 13 and 15-year-old.

The meeting, also attended by County Legislators Barrington Atkins and Randy Johnson, was described as “productive” and Molinaro announced that two initiatives funded by the county will begin immediately.  The joint effort will include mental health wellness training for high school students, faculty, and staff on “mental health wellness and trauma care” to be conducted by the Dutchess County Department of Behavioral and Community Health and will expand to offer services to parents and families.

The health department will be assisted by other community agencies in providing the training and services.  “We have had too many lives impacted and too many lives lost,” said Molinaro as he outlined the “urgent response to the violence.”

Legislator Atkins called the initiative “A plan to strengthen relationships and provide wraparound services for the city.”  He noted that he and Legislator Johnson both represent parts of the city and they were invested in the community.

Molinaro also laid out the plan to institute a “Youth Police Initiative” (YPI) through a collaboration of City of Poughkeepsie police officers and up to three Dutchess County Sheriff’s deputies.  The YPI is a national program that strengthens relationships between youths and law enforcement.  Mayor Rolison said the YPI “will help establish better relationships between the students and police and empower the students to help prevent incidents of violence in the schools and the community.”

“This last week has been very challenging,” Dr. Rosser said while lauding the collaboration between the district, the city, and the county.  A strong proponent of mental health services that students can benefit from, Rosser said, “We are making sure we are addressing the whole student.”

The district is prepared to provide education along with mental health wellness programming to help the students achieve more than just a high school diploma.  He noted that the staff and students at the high school held sessions on Friday with another scheduled for Monday to address safety concerns at the school.  The superintendent released an outline of steps that are being taken at the high school to improve security.  The outline can be read HERE.

The immediate training and YPI program will be funded by Dutchess County, Molinaro said.  He estimates the cost of the initiatives to be approximately $130,000.