We at IDRA feel terrible for the kindergarten girl who told her family she was abused at an elementary school by an older student in La Joya ISD. We are so sorry for the pain she and her family are going through. We hope that she receives the care and support she needs.

At IDRA’s core is the welfare of children. Nothing we do is more important than this.

The older student was a tutor in the IDRA Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program who had been asked by an adult to escort the kindergartener to the bathroom. This incident would not have occurred if policies of the program (and the school) regarding adult supervision had been followed.

The Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program has strict policies requiring that all students in the program be supervised by an adult at all times. This has always been the policy in the 34 years of the program. This rule is stated in the program’s guidelines and reinforced in trainings and meetings with school and district personnel. However, in light of this incident, IDRA also will require written assurances that the policies and procedures of the program regarding student safety will be followed. Without these assurances, we will not allow the program to operate in that school or district.

To provide clarity in the context of recent media coverage, following are key points about the program. Additional information is available online: https://www.idra.org/coca-cola-valued-youth-program.

  • The Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program is a research-based, internationally-recognized dropout prevention program created by the Intercultural Development Research Association. The program works by identifying middle school and high school students who are in at-risk situations and enlisting them as tutors for elementary school youngsters who are also struggling in school. Given this role of personal and academic responsibility, the Valued Youth tutors learn self-discipline and develop self-esteem; schools shift to the philosophy and practices of valuing students considered at-risk. Empirical data show that tutors stay in school and have increased academic performance, improved school attendance, reduced disciplinary issues and advance to higher education. The tutees improve in their learning and self-confidence as well.
  • Tutors tutor a minimum of four hours a week for one class period a day. The student tutors earn a minimum wage stipend for their work and are expected to adhere to the employee guidelines of their host school. Their primary responsibility is to work – under the supervision of an adult – in a one-to-three ratio with tutees on basic literacy and math skills as directed by the elementary teacher. Once a week, the tutors meet together as a class with their teacher coordinator, who oversees the program on a day-to-day level.
  • IDRA monitors the program through three onsite visits per year, coordination with the district site implementation team and rigorous evaluation.
  • Since its inception in 1984, the program has served 34,600 tutors and about 102,000 tutees. The lives of more than 718,000 children, families and educators have been positively impacted by the program, which is in schools across the United States and has been in Brazil, England and Puerto Rico.
  • La Joya ISD has been our partner in operating the program in the district for 25 years.

Once again, our hearts go out to the family.

Media questions about this incident or the implementation of the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program in La Joya ISD should be directed to the district.