OCSO, Brandon School launch ‘Handle With Care’ program

By Shelby Stewart-Soldan
Staff Writer
Brandon Twp. — In partnership with Oakland Schools and Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, the Brandon School District is launching the Handle With Care program.
“It’s a pilot program in Oakland County, but other counties have been engaged in this for years, so we’re finally bringing it on,” said Dr. Jessica Cohen, special education director with Brandon Schools. “It aims to respond as a community when a student is involved in or witnesses a traumatic event outside of school.”
Cohen said that if law enforcement respond to an incident, and there is a child in the home, they will alert the school resource officer of the child’s name and the instruction ‘handle with care’ to let the staff know that a student might be struggling at home. Brandon is one of two districts in the county piloting this program.
“We were already doing this, but I think this is a way to highlight what we’re already doing in our district,” she said. “If a Brandon student has a traumatic event, like maybe witnessing domestic violence in the home, then the officer will let us know that the student needs to be handled with care. So if the student acts out the next day, we would know that could be why. It’s a way for us to work closely with law enforcement to support students and their mental health needs.”
The local law enforcement is developing a communication system on their side, she said, and that it will be channeled through the school resource officer to alert the necessary staff.
“We were already kind of doing this work, because it’s best practice, so we’re just officially doing it,” said Cohen.
For the school staff, such as the student’s teacher or teachers and the mental health team, they will be able to provide additional check-ins with the students.
“If it’s a middle school student, those six teachers would get a student name and ‘handle with care’, which can inspire more connections throughout the day with that student and our mental health team may reach out for more support as needed,” she said. “Just an extra, ‘hey, how are you today?’. We don’t want a student to feel more alienated, but just making ourselves more visible and making that connection with the student.”

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