(PHILADELPHIA) — Standing with parents and the principal of the Bridge Way School in Philadelphia, state Rep. John Taylor and state Senator Pat Browne announced companion legislation being introduced in the House of Representatives and the state Senate to establish a four-year pilot recovery high school program for students in recovery from substance abuse.
“We are losing countless young lives to prescription and illegal drug abuse. There is an epidemic of heroin and prescription drug overdoses that must be stopped. This legislation is an initial step that will hopefully save lives,” Rep. Taylor said.
As an alternative to traditional public schools, recovery high schools offer positive peer encouragement, on-site intervention support services and academic curricula designed for students in early recovery.
“It has been shown that students who return to their previous high schools following substance abuse treatment are much more likely to relapse than those students who participate in a school specifically designed to provide the assistance, support and intervention that is needed to prevent a relapse from happening,” Senator Browne said. “This pilot recovery school program provides an opportunity for hope that these young individuals, with the right support system around them, can get their lives back on the right track and become productive and successful members of their communities and of our workforce.”
Currently, there are 35 recovery high schools in 15 states that are recognized by the Association of Recovery Schools.
Commenting on the legislation, House Education Chairman Rep. Stan Saylor said, “What we currently have available for these students is not working and this bill is a good pilot program to try to establish a way to help these troubled teens and give them access to a program that they otherwise would not be able to attend.”
“I am hopeful it will become a successful model that can be used across the state,” Rep. Saylor said.
Under Rep. Taylor’s and Senator Browne’s legislation, the recovery high school pilot program will serve a limited number of students over the initial four year period. Funding for students participating in the program will be shared between the Department of Education (PDE) and the school district in which the student resides.
Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Gary Tennis said, “Recovery schools offer a brilliant and proven way to support our cherished young people’s journey of recovery.”
Students whose placement in the program is publicly funded will be required to complete all state-level assessments that would be required of students enrolled in a traditional public school.
During the pilot program, the recovery high school will be required to report to the General Assembly, the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) and PDE concerning outcomes of the program.
As the pilot program nears its conclusion, DDAP and PDE must issue a report to the General Assembly assessing the success of the program and making recommendations regarding the possible extension and expansion of the program.
Ms. Rebecca Bonner – Principal of the Bridge Way School – said, “This legislation will provide greater access to much needed recovery support services for students in early recovery.”
Rep. Taylor and Senator Browne will formally introduce their legislation in the coming days.
The Bridge Way School serves students in grades 9-12 who seek a challenging academic program in an environment that requires, supports and honors sobriety. Bridge Way opened its doors in 2011 and is currently accepting applications.
The press conference was opened with the showing of a short 7 minute video entitled “some good-byes are forever” – which tells the story of the untimely and tragic deaths of a number of young Philadelphians from prescription and illegal drug abuse:
Marty O’Rourke (Rep. Taylor) 215.882.2658