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Countywide Initiative Gains State Support for Additional Juvenile Counselors for At-Risk Students

April 28, 1999
Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) will receive the assistance of six additional juvenile counselors next year under an expansion of the Spotlight on Schools Program administered by the Maryland State Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ).

The award of the additional juvenile counselors recognizes the outstanding application by MCPS for a countywide initiative in which all high schools will be served by either the new juvenile counselors or re deployed liaison counselors from the DJJ.

Spotlight on Schools is one in a series of initiatives developed by Governor Parris Glendening and Lt. Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend to enhance school safety. Last year, juvenile counselors were placed in schools throughout the state. Two such counselors were placed at Mark Twain School. Albert Einstein High School received an intervention specialist also funded by a DJJ prevention grant. Reports received thus far from both programs have been favorable, including successful efforts in addressing behavior problems, improving attendance, and increasing parental involvement.

The juvenile counselors also will collaborate with the school administrators to design effective intervention plans for individual students. The intervention specialist will work with administrators and members of the security team to address the problems of students on probation and provide counseling for at-risk students.

As a result of the new grant of the six additional counselors and a reorganization of other staff, the following will occur so that all high schools receive the counseling support:

  • Expansion of the Spotlight on Schools program to serve nine additional high schools for FY 2000. For FY 2000, there will be a total of 14 schools involved in Spotlight on Schools programs.

  • Re-deploy traditional DJJ counselors to create counselor positions in all other high schools.

  • Request additional Spotlight on Schools juvenile counselors each year to provide intervention and prevention for all secondary schools.

    All schools will benefit from having a school-based prevention and intervention program to deter delinquency. In January 1999, Montgomery County had 1,691 young people on active supervision by the DJJ. Of that number, 947 were in schools, with 472 on formal probation and 475 on informal probation. Formal supervision is when an adjudicated youth is placed on probation by a judge. In cases of informal supervision, DJJ has determined that in lieu of forwarding the case to court, the youth will be required to complete an agreed upon consequence such as restitution, community service, or counseling, within a three month period.

    Each Spotlight on Schools juvenile counselor will be assigned to one or two schools. If assigned to two schools, the juvenile counselor will be housed at one school and will monitor students on probation and those determined to be at risk for anti-social behavior at both schools.

    Juvenile counselors will be in the position to respond immediately to attendance issues, referrals for disruptive behavior, suspensions, potential dropout concerns, and family problems. Each juvenile counselor will outreach to middle school students as their caseload allows. The counselor liaison will perform the same duties and functions, but will continue to be housed at DJJ and have additional cases in the community.

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