Best Practices
 

CITY OF FREMONT
Mayor Gus Morrison

City Council/Fremont Unified School District Board Meetings

The City of Fremont, through the leadership of Mayor Gus Morrison and the City Council, has made a commitment to meet every several months with the Board of Trustees of the Fremont Unified School District. The City Manager and School Superintendent, along with their top staffs, meet regularly to discuss issues of mutual concern and to work on collaborative projects. Additionally, the Police Chiefs of Fremont and three neighboring cities meet monthly with the School Superintendents of Fremont and the other three school districts. These joint meetings have fostered an enhanced sense of partnership between the City of Fremont and the school district, and have resulted in a number of new programs and initiatives of benefit to students.

Agenda topics for the City Council/School Board meetings over the past couple of years have included joint public safety projects of the city and school district, joint property use projects, discussion of city and school district operations which lend themselves to cross-use between agencies, and consideration of public concerns regarding the impact of housing development on school enrollment. At one meeting, the City Council and School Board outlined their collective visions for the community and identified numerous ways in which the city and school district could work more closely to achieve community goals. These joint Council/Board meetings have resulted in a better understanding of the issues and perspectives of each elected body, and have created new opportunities for future collaborations.

Meetings of the staffs of the city and school district have resulted in a number of specific projects being implemented which are intended to increase cross-use of resources between the city and school district and strengthen our ability to work together on behalf of the entire community. Examples include sharing computer training resources, developing a "mutual aid" agreement for maintenance equipment and staff, joint training programs, solving problems pertaining to refuse/recycling collection rates for the school district, diversion program for first-time drug offenders (students), and school resource police officers jointly selected and funded.

Contact: City Manager Jan Perkins, (510) 494-4800, or e-mail: janperkins@aol.com )

Collaborative Programs for Youth

A community in transition, Fremont is learning to be a big city while simultaneously preserving the quality of life in the well-established small town neighborhoods that are at its core. Although Fremont enjoys many indicators of a healthy community, it is clear that many of its youth live risk-filled lives. They are engaged in unhealthy behaviors, such as criminal gang activity and unsafe sexual practices. Fremont's population has grown 43 percent in the last 15 years; accompanying this growth has been rapid increase in the cultural, economic and ethnic diversity of the community. Population growth, coupled with dramatic increases in cultural diversity, has enriched lives and brought an expanded understanding of the value that diversity brings to the community, together with new challenges that are most effectively met through collaborative community efforts.

Youth Forum Fremont's Healthy Community Task Force organized the first Youth Forum in early 1996. Entitled Stepping Ahead of Problems, it provides an opportunity for community discussion of important youth-related issues facing Fremont. Over 150 youth, educators, community leaders, the Mayor and members of the City Council participated, identifying problems and solutions to youth issues including Health, Cultural and Racial Concerns, Parenting, Safety and Recreation. Improving communication between young people and adults was a recurring theme, illustrated by one teenager's comment, "This is the most I've ever talked to adults in my whole life."

Intern Program The City's Youth & Family Counseling Center and the Fremont Unified School District have collaborated on the placement of supervised graduate-level interns earning family counseling degrees in seven junior high schools and one high school. Students meet with counselors in one-to-one and group settings to discuss issues of concern to youngsters as they grow toward adulthood. Students learn how to make healthy life choices regarding gang affiliation, sexual behavior, and alcohol/drug use. The Counseling Intern program at the high school includes a Date Violence Prevention Program, offered in collaboration with a local domestic abuse prevention agency, providing counseling to young women students experiencing physical or verbal abuse from their boyfriends.

In-School Art Appreciation Program Begun in 1985, the city's Recreation Services Division has provided this unique cooperative academic arts education program with the Fremont Unified School District. When the schools experienced severe budget cuts that eliminated the arts curriculum mandated by the state, the city offered to hire qualified art teachers to teach 10-week sessions as part of the school day. Offered on a user fee basis, the program brings multi-cultural art history, art appreciation and drama classes to the 27 elementary schools in Fremont.

Fremont After-School Classes for Teens (FACTS) A partnership between the city's recreation services division and the Fremont School District, FACTS brings safe, fun and affordable after-school recreation opportunities to two of the city's junior high school campuses. Because the classes are conducted on school grounds, there are no transportation problems, so youngsters can enjoy enriching after-school activities without leaving their school site. Junior high school teachers are hired to stay after school to lead the programs, which include homework clubs, model making, martial arts and team sports.

School Resource Officers Begun in 1995 as a joint program between the school district and the Police Department, School Resource Officers are placed on high school campuses to provide enhanced safety and problem-solving skills for all students through improved relationships between police officers and students.

Youth Citizen Academy Funded through a grant from the Urban Action Corps, this program is a collaborative among the Fremont Police Department and three neighboring cities, each of whom have adopted community-oriented policing philosophy and partnership relationships with area youth. The Academy is scheduled for consecutive Saturdays over a 10-week period and is designed to teach young adults ages 13-18 years about law enforcement and the various functions of the criminal justice system. Participants are considered for appointment to Explorer Posts.

Contact:
Suzanne Shenfil, Director of Human Services, (510) 494-4551
Jack Rogers, Director of Maintenance Recreation Services, (510) 494-4332

Craig Steckler, Chief of Police, (510) 790-6810

Youth Diversion Program

Under the leadership of the Mayor, City Council and City Manager, the City of Fremont has implemented a comprehensive youth diversion and restitution program. A collaborative effort among the Police and Human Services Departments, Fremont Unified School District and County Probation Department, this program offers alternatives to the juvenile justice system for youngsters involved in running away, truancy, or incorrigibility by offering families crisis intervention assessment and family counseling services as well as an opportunity for the young offender to perform community service as restitution for the offense. Students accepted into the program work from 16 to 200 hours providing community service, based on the severity of the violation.

One component of the Youth Diversion Program is the Help Educate Loving Parents (HELP) program, offered to first-time offenders in exchange for prosecution or the reduction of formal school discipline. This is a collaborative effort involving the Fremont Police Department, the Fremont Unified School District, and the City of Fremont's Youth and Family Counseling Center. HELP is designed to divert the first-time offender who has come into contact with police or school officials for drug-related offenses. A mandatory, two-hour training program is offered in exchange for criminal prosecution or the reduction of formal school discipline. The training involves both the youth and the parent. They are exposed to training and guest speakers, including Fremont Police Officers, Youth and Family Counselors, doctors speaking on the effects of drugs on the human body, and rehabilitated drug dealers.

The Youth Diversion program takes a broader problem-solving approach by requiring participants to be evaluated by the City of Fremont Youth and Family Counseling Department. If it is determined that the participant or family could benefit from counseling, they are then also held to the counseling requirement set by the Youth and Family Counseling Department. The participant must complete the community service requirement and the Youth and Family Counseling requirements before the participant's community service term is considered complete.

The goal of diversion is to educate the juvenile regarding the problem(s) they had, and to allow them the opportunity to "work it off." Another goal is to teach the juvenile offender responsibility for the decisions they make and the acts they commit. This program is as successful as the juvenile offender is willing to make it. The program helps to reinforce positive rather than negative contacts within the juvenile system.

The Youth Diversion Program has had over 400 participants since November 1994. The Youth Diversion Program has an impressive participant completion rate of 95 percent. The participants are required to demonstrate a significant degree of responsibility. They are not only held responsible for their attendance, but for their quality of work.

This program could not be provided if it were not for the collaborative effort of the Fremont Police Department, Fremont Youth and Family Counseling Center, Fremont Unified School District, and the Fremont Recreation and Maintenance Department. Citizen volunteers have been utilized for additional supervision of the work site and volunteers have been instrumental in teaching the participants valuable skills. For example, the Youth Diversion Program has enlisted the help of retired house painters to direct the participants in the correct way to paint the interior of buildings.

One measure of the success of the program is the extremely low recidivism rate for participants. At this time, the recidivism rate for participants is one percent. The majority of parents/guardians are very receptive to the Youth Diversion option for their child.

Much of the work performed by the Youth Diversion participants would have been done by city staff prior to this program, but due to the current budgetary constraints, many of the projects go unfinished or simply neglected. Participants have completed more than 4,500 community service hours for Fremont, saving the city and the community an estimated $25,000 in services. Fremont considers the Youth Diversion Program one of its most valuable programs.

Contact: Fremont Police Captain Michael Lanam, (510) 790-6825

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