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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Arkansas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A-CHANCE School Initiative Announced in Six Arkansas Counties

Program will help kids exposed to violence and crime by enabling schools to handle such situations

            Fayetteville, Arkansas - United States Attorney Conner Eldridge announced the A-Chance Initiative that will be implemented in 13 schools throughout six counties in the Western District of Arkansas in the upcoming school year.  Beginning when school starts on August 17, the A-Chance Program will ensure that when children are present at a violent, criminal, or traumatic event, police will notify their school by the next morning.  The school will then be better able to interact with and educate the child.  This program will be implemented in Washington, Sebastian, Crawford, Union, Clark, and Ouachita Counties.

            Eldridge was joined at the announcement by Sebastian County Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck, Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder, Crawford County Sheriff Ron Brown, Alma Chief of Police Russell White, Fayetteville Chief of Police Greg Tabor, Farmington Chief of Police Brian Hubbard, Lincoln Chief of Police Russell Morphis, Springdale Interim Chief of Police Mike Peters, West Fork Chief of Police Bryan Watts, and Johnson Chief of Police Vernon Sizemore. Also present were the following representatives:  Sergeant Frank Petra, Van Buren Police Department; Sergeant Dawn Sprayberry, Fort Smith Police Department; Farmington Freshman Academy Principal Bob Echols; Greenland Principal Alan Barton; Lincoln Assistant Principal Stan Karber; Farmington Resource Officer Chad Parrish and Fayetteville School Associate Superintendent Dr. Kim Garrett.

            U.S. Attorney Eldridge commented, “Children throughout Arkansas are exposed to horrible, unconscionable situations and we must do something about it.  The A-Chance program brings together those on the front lines of many of these situations:  law enforcement and schools.  By improving communication between these vital community leaders, kids throughout Arkansas will be more likely to receive the help and support they need in order to succeed in school and in life.”

            “A-Chance” stands for Arkansas Cultivating Healthy Attitudes and Nurturing Children to Excel, and is part of a larger initiative of the Department of Justice to address children exposed to violence and trauma. The A-Chance Program directly addresses the goal of mitigating negative impacts on children exposed to violence and trauma by identifying children that have come into contact with law enforcement and ensuring that school personnel are aware of that fact. The program is simple and requires no funding, but the commitment of these law enforcement agencies and school administrators is essential in making it a success. Any time a police officer responds to the scene of a “traumatic event” and a child is present, the officer will fill out a simple form with the child’s name and the school they attend.  The police will forward a the information to the school’s district office who will then forward a “Handle With Care Notice” to the appropriate school principal by the beginning of the next school day.  The child’s teacher and counselor will also be notified.

           The “Handle With Care Notice” contains only the child’s name, school, and that police encountered the child at a traumatic event.  Potential measures schools could take when receiving the notice may include but are not limited to notifying the child’s teacher(s) that the child may need special attention; re-teaching important lessons and/or postponing testing; permitting the child time to rest if he/she has trouble focusing or staying awake; or referring the child to the school counselor if he/she exhibits behavioral or emotional problems in the classroom.

            Law enforcement agencies and school districts that will participate in the A-Chance Program are as follows:

Clark County:

Clark County Sheriff’s Office

Amity Police Department

Arkadelphia Police Department

Arkadelphia Public Schools

Centerpoint Public Schools

Gurdon Police Department

Gurdon Public Schools

Crawford County:

Crawford County Sheriff’s Office

Alma Police Department

Alma Public Schools

Van Buren Police Department

Van Buren Public Schools

Ouachita County:

Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office

Camden Police Department

Camden Public Schools

Sebastian County:

Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office

Fort Smith Police Department

Fort Smith Public Schools

Union County:

Union County Sheriff’s Office

El Dorado Police Department

El Dorado Public Schools

Washington County:

Washington County Sheriff’s Office

Fayetteville Police Department

Fayetteville Public Schools

Springdale Police Department

Springdale Public Schools

Greenland Police Department

Greenland Public Schools

Lincoln Police Department

Lincoln Public Schools

Greenland Police Department

Greenland Public Schools

Farmington Police Department

Farmington Public Schools

West Fork Police Department

West Fork Public Schools

Johnson Police Department

 

            This program is available to any school and law enforcement agency in the Western District of Arkansas.  We are asking that interested parties please contact us to get started in the program.

 

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Updated August 6, 2015