Published November 20, 2015
WASHINTON — The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students awarded Little Wound School on the Pine Ridge Reservation in southwestern South Dakota a Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) grant totaling more than $325,000. The grant will be used to assist the Little Wound School with ongoing recovery efforts following 12 suicide deaths on the Pine Ridge reservation, including the deaths of current and former Little Wound School students, and relatives and friends of the students. In addition, there have been more than 100 suicide attempts on the reservation during the 2014-15 school year. This is the third Project SERV grant awarded to a school district on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The first grant was awarded in June 2010, and in June 2015, the Department awarded a grant to Pine Ridge School following a significant increase in student suicides.
“These incidents are troubling, and my heart goes out to the students, families and community of Pine Ridge,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “There are so many people involved in the work to help children, families and the community heal after these tragedies, and this grant will help this community receive the services it needs to move forward in restoring the learning environment.”
Little Wound School is a Bureau of Indian Education funded, tribally-controlled school, home to the Oglala Sioux Tribe, and serves approximately 800 students, kindergarten through 12th grade. It is in the center of the Pine Ridge Reservation, which is the second largest Indian reservation in the United States. When the tragedies occurred, they impacted the entire Pine Ridge Reservation as many students most likely knew the victims or were closely bound by kinship.
Little Wound has acknowledged that additional support is needed to meet the needs of all students requiring care. To help address these needs, Little Wound School requested a Project SERV Extended Services grant to help restore the learning environment through the provision of additional support and case management services for students. Specifically, the school will use the grant to adopt programs designed to restore the learning environment and establish a comprehensive suicide-awareness and responsiveness program. The program will focus on addressing youth suicide with a culturally appropriate and comprehensive approach. Funds also will be used to hire a counselor/social worker who will track the number of students requiring hospitalization and subsequent transitioning back into the school system after suicide attempts, and two full-time teachers.
There are two types of Project SERV awards—Immediate Services and Extended Services. Immediate Services grants provide emergency, short-term assistance to affected school districts or colleges and universities. Extended Services grants assist school districts and colleges and universities in carrying out the long-term recovery efforts that may be needed following a significant, traumatic event. To date, the Office of Safe and Healthy Students has awarded more than $42.1 million to 128 grantees, including Little Wound School, since the grants program began in 2001.