This report discusses the goals, features, and early evaluations of Connecticut’s Effective School Staff Interactions with Students and Police (ESSI).
In 2012, Connecticut’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee (JJAC) charged its School/Police Task Force with developing an approach to diverting students from the juvenile justice system without sacrificing school safety. Guided by the JJAC recommendation that “local education agencies should work closely with local law enforcement in developing policies and procedures in order to reduce over-reliance on arrest to handle school disciplinary matters.” The School/Police Task Force developed the ESSI. The ESSI is a 1-day, approximately 5-hour training course delivered by one school staff trainer and one police officer in a classroom setting (about 25 participants per session). The goals of the training are to increase school staff knowledge of youth behavior, strategies for interacting effectively with students, the role of law enforcement in schools, how the juvenile justice system works, increase school staff awareness of disproportionate minority contact (DMC) within the school disciplinary and juvenile justice system, and increase the likelihood that disruptive students will respond positively toward school staff. The piloting of this program occurred in June and October of 2012. In addition, each participating school district submitted a separate list of school staff to participate as members of the comparison group. A total of 130 school staff participated in the training between October and December of 2012. In addition, each participating school district submitted a separate list of school staff to participate as members of the comparison groups. A pre-post questionnaire administered to participants found that positive increases in participants’ knowledge scores remained significant in 5 to 7 months after completion of training. Overall, the evaluation results suggested that the program was effective in improving participants’ knowledge about school staff, students, and police interactions; however, results on participants’ attitudes over time were less conclusive.