On Tuesday afternoon, Superintendent Garth Harries ’95 visited Co-op High School to explain the Youth Stat program — Mayor Toni Harp’s data-driven approach towards reducing violence among the city’s youth — that will be introduced throughout the rest of the New Haven public school system in upcoming weeks.
The Youth Stat program has already been piloted throughout the district, in schools such as Hillhouse Upper Academy, Dixwell New Light and New Horizons. The program seeks to share information about truancy, arrests and academic performance between the city’s agencies in order to support individual at-risk students.
This year, the Youth Stat program has already collected information about 293 students across the various New Haven Public Schools. The district is particularly concerned about gang-affiliated students, said Gemma Joseph-Lumpkin, Executive Manager of District Strategy and Coordinating for New Haven Public Schools.
In order to track the behaviors at-risk youth, Youth Stat is using software from Veoci, a start-up company that employs several former Yale students. Just as the technology at a police emergency operation center provides communication across the department, co-founder of Veoci Nathaniel Ellis GRD ’99 said he would like Veoci to be used as a communication tool between school employees, social workers and others who help at-risk youth.
Members of what Hillhouse Upper Academy Principal Kermit Carolina called the “first line of defense: truancy officers, guidance counselors, in-school suspension coordinators, school psychologists” will be assigned as caseworkers to at-risk students.
Sukh Grewal, Veoci’s CEO and other co-founder, highlighted the system’s accountability, and said that the technology will allow fewer students to fall through the cracks.
At Co-op High School on Tuesday, Ellis conducted a live demonstration of the software’s sleek interface and demonstrated how the program emphasizes security.
Ellis said that because the information is sensitive, sending it through a less secure medium such as email is “a recipe for disaster.”
Instead, only authorized people will have access to student information and a caseworker accessing Veoci on a computer or mobile device, is greeted with a reminder of the confidentiality agreement signed by the user.
Jason Bartlett, the director of youth services for New Haven, also emphasized the Youth Stat Committee’s commitment to privacy. Sample parental consent forms were passed around the room, informing guardians that their son or daughter has been identified as a student who might benefit from the Youth Stat Initiative.
Though secure, the program is also accessible.
“If you’re comfortable using your phone for texting, you will be comfortable using our mobile app,” Ellis said.
Currently the school resource officers do not have the same access to students and their records.
The next Youth Stat General Meeting will take place on Sep. 23.