ECSO Receives Innovative Award for Continuing Education Initiative

Modified: January 29, 2019 9:14am

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The Sheriff’s Office Partners with Buffalo Public Schools to Create a High School in Jail 

Buffalo, NY – Erie County Sheriff Timothy B. Howard announced his office is the recipient of the 2018 New York State Sheriff’s Institute’s Innovative Program Award for its collaborative program with Buffalo Public Schools.  This educational program supports youthful offenders’ educational needs within the Erie County Holding Center and helps them achieve long-term educational goals. 

“I am honored to accept this award on behalf of the jail management team, the Buffalo Public Schools, the school’s dedicated teachers, and all the necessary support staff that makes Public School #381 a tremendous program,” said Sheriff Howard.  “This demonstrates our commitment to serving the needs of youthful offenders and aid them with making life changes.” 

Six years ago, Sheriff Howard’s administration and the Buffalo Public Schools initiated a program to allow for the continuity of education for high school aged inmates, and Buffalo Public School #381 was created within the walls of the Erie County Holding Center.  This program provides educational needs beyond tutoring and high school equivalency programs to include New York Certified teachers for English, science, social studies, and mathematics as well as special education teachers, guidance counselors, school psychologists, and a Title 1 funded transitional counselor. 

Since its inception, the program has experienced:

  • Over 1,100 students connected to high school programs and transitional services.
  • Nearly 200 students successfully transition back into their home districts and graduate.
  • Over 400 students receive new or updated special educational support services.
  • 285 students earned Regents diplomas or local credit for classes taken at PS #381. 

"Being recognized by both the Sheriff’s Office and the New York State Department of Education as a model program to help youth overcome challenges is something to celebrate,” said Buffalo Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash.  “It’s another example of our New Education Bargain in practice.  We acknowledge the strong collaboration of our Adult Education Division, Title I Department, instructors, tutors, counselors and others in the academic success for all of our students.  We recognize that, as educators, we must deliver on guaranteeing pathways to success for all students and families regardless of personal challenges.” 

This educational based program has reduced recidivism rates among inmates who participated in the learning sessions by 40%, and both entities are discussing offering vocational and workforce training which will allow the student to obtain hard and soft skills needed to obtain and maintain employment. 

Each year, the New York State Sheriff’s Institute reviews programs initiated within New York Sheriff’s Offices, and this award brings the total number of jail management awards up to three (VINE and mental health Residential Treatment Program).  In addition, Sheriff Howard’s administration has achieved accreditation for the Erie County Holding Center and Correctional Facility. 

Sheriff Howard and Jail management Superintendent Thomas Diina attended the NYS Sheriff’s Institute’s winter meeting in Albany, New York and accepted the award.