ASK THE DA: Students graduate ReStart Academy

July 1, 2013 Charles J. Hynes
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During this joyous season of graduations, I would like to offer my congratulations to all those who have reached this milestone in their lives this year. I would also like to take this opportunity to speak about a graduation and “moving-up” ceremony for 15 participants at my Back on Track Re-Start school which provides intensive educational instruction for truant and at-risk middle school students qualifying them to enroll in high school.

In addition to the scholastic curriculum administered by the New York Department of Education, these students also received an array of services that helped them overcome other problems that they had been experiencing in their lives. Classes take place at the Back on Track ReStart Academy located at 2318 Atlantic Avenue in Brownsville.

Education is a key component in getting kids to lead successful, law-abiding lives. We have to reach them at an early age before negative influences lead them astray. ReStart is a remarkable program that addresses the dire need for school settings that encourage and enhance attendance of youth, ages 13 to 16, at risk of dropping out or discontinuing school before receiving their high school diploma.

ReStart is the educational component of the Back on Track program. The students that just graduated will all be attending the high schools of their choice in the fall, but are between the ages of 13 and 16, and in eighth grade because they had been held back one or more times.

The Back on Track staff includes teachers provided by the Department of Education.  The Brooklyn district attorney’s office provides a full-time social worker who works directly with the students and their families to ensure that they get the services they need.

Many of these students have had high rates of truancy that have affected their level of scholastic achievement, whereas some are lacking parental motivation and support, while others are court-involved or substance abusers.

The program has been a success. The students who were formerly truant and have come from difficult backgrounds were able to achieve a high level of excellence in the second year of this groundbreaking program.

We will continue to monitor the graduates’ progress periodically for the next two years, which will include coordination with their high school guidance counselors and their parents.  The combination of ReStart’s educational resources and the resources of the district attorney’s office, along with the social services provided by Back on Track, has helped break the cycle of truancy.

To view video of the students talking about their experience at the Back on Track ReStart school, you can click on the following link:

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