YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A number of youth in the Youngstown City School District are being raised in non-traditional homes.

Jennings said that over 30% live with a non-custodial parent.

“So that’s a grandparent or even in foster care. Our homeless population is almost triple. And that homeless or what we consider not having a stable home, not necessarily couch surfing or living on the streets, but not having a permanent residence,” he said.

Jennings said that many are living below the poverty line and over 90% are on a free or reduced lunch.

Jennings said trauma and exposure to violence is a concerns.

“We see some of those things that are happening in the street manifest in our building and that’s huge. A couple of months ago, we had a student who was just down at the park playing and he was shot and passed away in front of his house,” Jennings said. “It’s definitely something impactful. Our students know and understand what’s going on.”

Conflict resolution plays a role in helping students. Jennings said it’s been well-received.

“We’ve started to worth through restorative practice or restorative justice. It depends on what circle you are in and basically working through conflict resolution, but it’s more peer-based but also based with adults as well. Most of our scholars have taken well to it.

Jennings said keeping kids in school is a priority. He said certain behaviors require discipline, but they try to replace those behaviors with desired ones. He said times are changing when it comes to punishment.

“So punitive–you chew gun, you got suspended. It is so different, now,” he said.

Social-emotional learning has become a big part of education. Jennings said you want to focus on learning but that can’t be the entire focus.

“It’s really hard because even for me and my role, my focus, I want to be just on teaching and learning, but we can’t because we have to focus on the social-emotional learning,” he said. “We have to make sure our students are fed. We just purchased a dental RV because a lot of four students have never been to the dentist. When I came, we started U Care Clinics because a lot of our students were missing school because they weren’t getting their shots.”