Decatur County Community Schools
Administrative Guidelines
 

8410C - PRINCIPLES UNDERLYING INTERVENTION

Violence prevention and response plans should consider both prevention and intervention. Plans also should provide all staff with easy access to a team of specialists trained in evaluating serious behavioral and academic concerns. Eligible students should have access to special education services, and classroom teachers should be able to consult school psychologists, other mental health specialists, counselors, reading specialists, and special educators.

Effective practices for improving the behavior of troubled children are well documented in the research literature. Research has shown that effective interventions are culturally appropriate, family-supported, individualized, coordinated, and monitored. Further, interventions are more effective when they are designed and implemented consistently over time with input from the child, the family, and appropriate professionals. Schools also can draw upon the resources of their community to strengthen and enhance intervention planning.

When drafting a violence prevention and response plan, it is helpful to consider certain principles that have a significant impact on success, shown through research or expert-based experience. The principles include:

 

A.

Share responsibility by establishing a partnership with the child, school, home, and community. Coordinated service systems should be available for children who are at risk for violent behavior. Effective schools reach out to include families and the entire community in the education of children. In addition, effective schools coordinate and collaborate with child and family service agencies, law enforcement and juvenile justice systems, mental health agencies, businesses, faith and ethnic leaders, and other community agencies. 

     
 

B.

Inform parents and listen to them when early warning signs are observed. Parents should be involved as soon as possible. Effective and safe schools make persistent efforts to involve parents by: informing them routinely about school discipline policies, procedures, and rules, and about their children's behavior (both good and bad); involving them in making decisions concerning schoolwide disciplinary policies and procedures; and encouraging them to participate in prevention programs, intervention programs, and crisis planning. Parents need to know what school-based interventions are being used with their children and how they can support their success.

     
 

C.

Maintain confidentiality and parents' rights to privacy. Parental involvement and consent is required before personally identifiable information is shared with other agencies, except in the case of emergencies or suspicion of abuse. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a federal law that addresses the privacy of education records, must be observed in all referrals to or sharing of information with other community agencies. Furthermore, parent-approved interagency communication must be kept confidential. FERPA does not prevent disclosure of personally identifiable information to appropriate parties--such as law enforcement officials, trained medical personnel, and other emergency personnel--when responsible personnel determine there is an emergency (imminent danger).

     
 

D.

Develop the capacity of staff, students, and families to intervene. Many school staff members are afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing when faced with a potentially violent student. Effective schools provide the entire school community--teachers, students, parents, support staff--with training and support in responding to imminent warning signs, preventing violence, and intervening safely and effectively. Interventions must be monitored by professionals who are competent in the approach. According to researchers, programs do not succeed without the ongoing support of administrators, parents, and community leaders.

     
 

E.

Support students in being responsible for their actions. Effective school communities encourage students to see themselves as responsible for their actions, and actively engage them in planning, implementing, and evaluating violence prevention initiatives.

     
 

F.

Simplify staff requests for urgent assistance. Many school systems and community agencies have complex legalistic referral systems with timelines and waiting lists. Children who are at risk of endangering themselves or others cannot be placed on waiting lists.

     
 

G.

Make interventions available as early as possible. Too frequently, interventions are not made available until the student becomes violent or is adjudicated as a youthful offender. Interventions for children who have reached this stage are costly, restrictive, and relatively inefficient. Effective schools build mechanisms into their intervention processes to ensure that referrals are addressed promptly, and that feedback is provided to the referring individual.

     
 

H.

Use sustained, multiple, coordinated interventions. It is rare that children are violent or disruptive only in school. Thus, interventions that are most successful are comprehensive, sustained, and properly implemented. They help families and staff work together to help the child. Coordinated efforts draw resources from community agencies that are respectful of and responsive to the needs of families. Isolated, inconsistent, short-term, and fragmented interventions will not be successful-and may actually do harm.

     
 

I.

Analyze the context in which violent behavior occurs. School communities can enhance their effectiveness by conducting a functional analysis of the factors that set off violence and problem behaviors. In determining an appropriate course of action, consider the child's age, cultural background, and family experiences and values. Decisions about interventions should be measured against a standard of reasonableness to ensure the likelihood that they will be implemented effectively.

     
 

J.

Build upon and coordinate internal school resources. In developing and implementing violence prevention and response plans, effective schools draw upon the resources of various school-based programs and staff--such as special education, safe and drug free school programs, pupil services, and Title I.

Violent behavior is a problem for everyone. It is a normal response to become angry or even frightened in the presence of a violent child. But, it is essential that these emotional reactions be controlled. The goal must always be to ensure safety and seek help for the child.

© Neola 2011