Sun County School District reviewed data related to problem behaviors. They discovered racial disproportionality in office discipline referrals. They also determined that a large number of students experienced anxiety and depression. These students showed a trend of inconsistent school attendance. The school district established a multi-disciplinary work group. They decided to merge Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and School-Linked Mental Health services. The work group included administrators, support service works, teachers, members of community based organizations, and clinical directors of Outpatient Mental Health services from local community agencies.
The team determined strategies for reaching their goals to promote mental health and increase school attendance. The team agreed upon common language, functions, and services to provide across school buildings. They worked with community partners to extend the language and services into the community. Teachers and staff were provided professional development. They learned classroom management expectations and strategies to extend outside of classrooms. Coaches in each building provided support for teachers and staff.
Schools implemented a comprehensive wellness curriculum. This included mental health screening for all students. Team members from community based organizations communicated terminology and services more broadly into the community.
System-wide monitoring systems were established. A system for feedback was also established to guide implementation. Screening and evaluating data was regularly monitored and evaluated by the team. Mental health professionals were hired by the district to provide counseling or more intensive services based on students’ needs.
In each building, school teams met at least two times per month to monitor student progress. They discussed issues related to providing effective student supports and issues that may be related to disproportionality. Concerns about particular students could also be brought to the team during this time. These meetings encouraged communication. Team members also built relationships and shared ideas. Student progress could be monitored and adjusted.
In the first year after implementation, the Sun County School District significantly decreased the number of racial/ethnic minority students receiving office discipline
referrals. Students receiving mental health interventions raised their test scores and decreased the number of days in which they were absent from school.