DENVER (CBS4) – Denver Public Schools got a $1 million grant to support becoming a trauma-informed district. The philanthropic investment comes from the Campbell Foundation, a donor-advised fund of The Denver Foundation. Janice and Jim Campbell have three grandchildren who graduated from DPS, and last year they decided to make a major gift to the district.
“The program is off and running, and we’re delighted. We fell very blessed to be a small part of this wonderful program,” Jim Campbell said during a news conference about the gift.READ MORE: Coloradans Kim Dobson And Ashley Brasovan Take Top Spots In Mount Washington Road Race
Last year, the Denver Public Schools Board of Education passed the Trauma-Informed School District resolution, which has set the course for an emphasis on the district supporting students who are impacted by trauma. As part of the implementing that resolution, DPS has formed an action team made up of staff and community members, who’ve developed a strategic plan of implementation.
“DPS has begun training staff members in 65 schools, and we plan to increase training with a wider emphasis to all adults in the building, including our drivers, our custodial staff, those working in the cafeteria. DPS has also hired additional staff to implement trauma work with the support of the recent Campbell Foundation grant,” said Jennifer Bacon, a school board representative.
The district has hired 4 staff members to direct and implement this trauma-informed training. This is the latest in an on-going effort to increase mental health supports in the schools. Over the last seven years, DPS has doubled the number of mental health professionals in schools, including psychologists, social workers, and counselors.
“Above all we need to make sure that our teachers are getting the training, and learning, and support to be able to recognize trauma in their students, and to be able to help address the traumatic issues that are our students are going through,”said district superintendent Tom Boasberg.READ MORE: Preventing Theft: Denver Police Etching VIN On Catalytic Converters
In tandem with increasing the trauma training, the DPS Board of Education unanimously approved changes to the discipline policy that are designed to dramatically curtail suspensions and expulsions for students in pre-school through third grade.
“Making sure that when our students make mistakes, and they do make mistakes, that those mistakes are learning opportunities, for young people to learn from their mistakes, and do better next time, and make sure when someone has been harmed by their mistakes, through a restorative justice practice, that that student takes responsibility for owning up to that harm, and making that situation whole,” said Boasberg.
The District is celebrating Hallett Academy that went from 34 students suspended in the 2016-2017 school year, to zero students suspected last year.
“We love children back into learning. We restore them back to a place where they feel safe and included and heard,” said Hallett Academy principal, Dominique Jefferson.MORE NEWS: Colorado Weather: Landspout Tornadoes Hit Colorado Plains
Jefferson credited the school’s Dean of Culture for lifting the moral so that children experience joy when they’re at school.