The school board also approved a Trauma Informed Care Plan for the 2021-2022 school year. Dr. Johnson explained the plan was also required by the School Safety Resiliency Act and that its goal is to sensitize the school community and the greater community to the potential affects of what are known as “adverse childhood experiences” on students. The board also approved agreements with speech and language pathologist, Carley Jarboe; interpreter for deaf and hard of hearing students, Charity Reed; and an orientation and mobility service agreement with Karen White. “Often times our children are experiencing things that we may not always be aware of or sensitized to, and yet, they come to class with some baggage or some concerns or some thoughts and feelings that need help being processed,” he explained. “So this plan will help us identify those students and lead them to treatment supports more readily.”
Siler said these contracts and agreements allow students to receive the assistance and therapy needed at their schools, preventing the students from having to leave school and miss class to receive the help they need. “These four groups allow us to increase the access of mental health supports within our student population,” noted Whitley County Special Education Director Dr. Ralph Johnson. “We’ve been satisfied with the services we’ve gotten from these agencies. They’ve really been an asset to our school district.”
“We provide an area for them and they can between classes, only miss a little bit of a class, and never have to leave the school,” he said. Specifically, the board approved renewing a contract with Cumberland River Behavioral Health, and memorandums of agreements with Bluegrass Behavioral Health Group, Necco, and Intrust Healthcare.
Siler commended the school system’s nutrition departments for taking on the responsibility of providing the snack to students. “It’s extra,” he said. “After lunch, when they’re breaking everything down and cleaning and preparing for the next day, they have to take some of their time to prepare the snack. They do a wonderful job. I really appreciate our food service department going the extra mile for our kids.” “This is something we’ve had in our district for several years now,” Siler said, noting the snacks come in between lunch and the final bell of the day. “It’s just a good addition to the service of education we already provide for our kids,” he added.
The board later approved allowing the school system’s nutrition department to apply for a fruit and vegetable grant that allows the school system to provide free healthy snacks for Whitley County students. Dr. Johnson also said the plan builds a “network of responsiveness” and allows the school district to work with local law enforcement who may have intimate knowledge of the adverse trauma a student faces that because of confidentially, the school district may not have knowledge of. Johnson said the plan implements a concept that allows law enforcement to use codeword with school officials letting them know that a student may be facing an adverse trauma without going into the specifics of the situation.
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