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School Based Probation
School Based Probation started in Westmoreland County in 1994 through a grant from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. Initially, the program was placed into 6 districts within Westmoreland County (Derry, Greater Latrobe, Greensburg Salem, Hempfield, Kiski, and New Kensington/Arnold). There were 4 full-time school-based probation officers that covered these schools. Derry/Latrobe and Kiski/New Kensington/Arnold split a full time school-based probation officer. In 1999 the program was expanded with the addition of another full time school based probation officer who was assigned to cover the Norwin and Penn-Trafford school districts. Again in 2002 because of the programs continual success another school based probation officer position was created and placed full time into the Kiski school district. Because Kiski and New Kensington/Arnold were covered initially by one school based officer the new position allowed each district to have its own full time school based probation officer.

Objectives of School Based Probation 
  • Decrease disciplinary referrals;
  • Decrease the number of days and times of detentions and suspensions;
  • Decrease the days of absenteeism;
  • Increase the number of positive school reports on probation students as measured by teacher’s quarterly comments;
  • Increase the percentage of completed homework assignments, and improve the grades of students;
  • Decrease the drop-out rate;
  • Reduce recidivism (defined as re-arrest or new juvenile court referral);
  • Minimize placements.

Duties of School Based Officer
The School Based Probation Officer will have at least three contacts a week for the first month with his/her delinquent clients. The daily duties of the School Based Probation Officer include providing the school with an up-to-date list of students assigned to School Based Probation, monitoring the school attendance and behavior of school based probationers, and intervening in crisis situations involving these juveniles. In addition, School Based Probation Officers are often asked to actively participate in coordinating Community Service Work Programs and other programming for students suspended from school and to coordinate re-entry conferences for targeted students returning to school following placement in a juvenile justice facility. The School Based Officers also conduct home and family visits and serve as youth advocates by referring juveniles to needed resources not available to them through the school system.

Case Management
Westmoreland County operates a single case management system. In the single case management system, the School Based Officer is responsible for all school based monitoring and handles court procedures and other out-of-school aspects of case management.

Conclusion
We have experienced great success with this innovative program. The school districts and the Juvenile Court of Westmoreland County have always sought to provide the opportunity for high-risk students to become positive, productive citizens. The intense cooperation and coordination between the school districts and the School Based Probation Program in Westmoreland County should serve to intensify the ability to meet the needs of these particular students.