S.C.O.P.E. program in effect

By Zico Duma - Staff Reporter

Highline is the first college to provide a program that offers wrap-around support for students who are involved or at risk of involvement in the juvenile justice system.

Students Creating Optimal Performance Education Program, is a community partnership created this year. It's between Highline, Teamchild, Neighborhood House and the Highline School District. Together, the organizations work to divert students from aged 16-21 from going into the criminal justice system.

The program Is funded by the Highline School District, averaging around $160,000 a year. It pays for Teamchild services that give students access to attorneys and social service, tuition for classes at Highline and case workers from Neighborhood House.

"Our goal is to interrupt the school-to-prison pipeline by channeling youth to positive pathways," said Almetta Pitts, founder of the S.C.O.P.E. program.

She said that there's a pipeline for success for children K-12 to and a pipeline into the criminal system for children who live in poverty, are in an abusive home circumstance, or have a chemical dependency.

"We want to reach out to students who are lacking resources or need extra support to be college bound," Pitts said.

The program offers a Teamchild attorney, if the students are facing any legal issues and a case worker, whom they have to meet with twice a quarter to help guide and mentor them. Also multiple resources that help with financial aid/funding information, information on graduation, careers and scholarships.

Pitts said the program aims to help set students up for a professional future. Students will first earn high school credits from taking classes at the college. Then, they can choose to go back to their high school, but still work with their case manager, or continue knocking out high school credits at the college while earning higher education credits when taking 100+ level classes.

She said that 75 students a year can be accepted into the program. Students first must receive a referral from their high school counselor, teacher or parent. Then they take a placement test and have their transcripts reviewed by Highline advisers.

If they don't meet the qualifications, they can be sent to other programs that help with earning their high school diplomas such as Pathways to College or the High School 21+ program.

Pitts said that the program is student directed, which means students need to choose to take the resources and support they're offering.

She said she hopes that the program will help students with broadening their knowledge of how the educational system works and their rights as human beings, allowing them to be pipelined into the world instead of the jail cell.

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