HELENA — Last spring, the Helena Public Schools District teamed up with the Helena Police Department to launch the “Handle with Care” program.
“We’ll pull that student aside, just ask if they’re doing okay, ask if they need anything,” said Cal Boyle, the Principal of Helena Middle School.
This program helps to support students who experience traumatic incidents outside of school hours.
“Handle with Care” provides a process for law enforcement to promptly notify school officials when a student witnesses a traumatic event.
“There’s a national model. I was fortunate the previous district I worked in here in Montana, had a police chief that was interested and was interested in trying it out,” Rex Weltz, the Superintendent of Helena Public Schools.
The responding officer can confidentially notify district administration through the “Handle with Care” portal.
“That link comes here to the district office we research the student and/or sibling that are associated with that student, and then we let the corresponding principals and councilors know that this student will come to school in probably a state of trauma,” Waltz said.
The district does not receive any information about the incident, they only learn the student’s name.
“We really worked hard to protect the right of our family, that confidentiality. That we don’t get the details,” said Weltz.
Their principal, teacher, school counselor, or other relevant staff can then provide the student extra support when they return to the classroom.
So far this school year, the district has received about 60 “Handle with Care” notifications.
“Most of what we had, the student have always been willing to talk and they’re always really cooperative, but I really anticipate a situation where it really helps save a kid from a really rough time. So, it’s a huge benefit,” Boyle said.
The district says by meeting students where they are emotionally, they can provide resources to keep them on track in the classroom and help them heal.