Mandated Reporting


For your safety, and as required by Massachusetts law, the staff of Housatonic Academy are mandated to report to appropriate authorities if there is reasonable cause to suspect abuse and/or neglect of a student by any person. “Abuse or neglect” means a threat to a child’s health or welfare by physical, mental or emotional injury or impairment. Examples are: sexual abuse or exploitation, deprivation of essential needs such as food, lack of protection, physical or emotional abuse and others by a person responsible for the child. A 51(a) form, to be submitted to the Department of Children and Families, will be used when necessary for your protection and to fulfill our commitment to mandated reporting.

Program Expectations: Searches

Housatonic Academy specifically reserves all rights to carry out a reasonable search of students and their property including but not limited to desks, lockers, lunch boxes/bags, school bags and agency vehicles. This school further reserves the right with due cause or as a regular practice to carry out a search of the student and their personal belongings including but not limited to purses, wallets, backpacks, clothing and person to maintain a safe environment. Any student refusing to cooperate in a search will be subject to disciplinary action decided upon at a Student Accountability Meeting.

Searches are used to maintain a safe environment for all of our students. Please comply and understand their necessity. Metal detectors and other law enforcement tools may be used in some searches. Random searches may occur if we have sufficient reason to believe it is necessary to provide for the safety and welfare of our students and staff.

Any items found during a search that are not allowed in the classroom setting (i.e. cell-phones, electronics that connect to internet, etc) will be kept in a locked box in the supervisors’ office until dismissal.  Any items found during a search that are deemed to be unsafe will be kept in the supervisors’ office until a parent/guardian picks up the items (i.e. fishing hook, lighter, etc).

Program Expectations: Alcohol, Drug, and Weapon Policy


It is a central goal of this school to maintain a safe and healthy environment free from the effects of drugs, alcohol, weapons and the threats of and/or acts of violence.


  1.         The use, possession, sale or distribution of unauthorized drugs or alcohol while on school property by any student under the care of this school is grounds for immediate suspension or expulsion. Illegal or unauthorized substances shall be confiscated and the appropriate law enforcement agencies shall be notified.
  2.         The use, possession, sale or distribution of weapons by any student while on school property is grounds for immediate dismissal. All illegal weapons will be confiscated and the appropriate law enforcement agencies notified. Any object that can be a weapon or that has potential to be dangerous is prohibited, e.g., matches, lighters, knives, nail files and any spray liquid items, etc.

Program Expectations: Safety


Every student and staff has the right to be safe and to be respected. We are committed to students learning in an environment that is safe. Safety is essential and must be maintained for a successful program.

  •         Inappropriate comments and drawing (i.e. guns, violence, drugs and alcohol, sex,

tobacco etc.) are not allowed.

  •         Inappropriate, provocative, or threatening singing or dancing is prohibited.
  •         Appropriate physical boundaries must be maintained. This means that students and

staff respect one another’s “comfort zones”, and maintain a reasonable distance

from one another. It also means that students and staff will use touch respectfully

and appropriately.

  •         Staff need to be able to hear all conversations at all times. Whispering and note

passing is not allowed.

  •         Students must be supervised at all times and stay within eyesight and earshot.
  •         Any object that can be a weapon or that has potential to be dangerous is prohibited,

e.g., matches, lighters, knives, nail files and any spray liquid items, etc.  These items will be confiscated during searches and may not be returned to the student.

  •         Cigarettes, tobacco products of any kind and alcohol are not allowed. A

Parent/Guardian will be notified.

  •         Over-the-counter medication will be provided by the School Nurse.  Students are not

allowed to bring in their own over-the-counter medication.

  •         Law requires that students wear a seat belt in a school vehicle. If a student has a

problem on the bus (not wearing a seat belt, or being disruptive or dangerous), the

Student will be placed on a safety-watch and off-campus trips may be restricted.

  •         We are committed to a safe and respectful environment. Discrimination or

harassment of any kind will not be tolerated.

Program expectations: Inclement Weather Policy


Please listen to the local radio/television stations in the event of inclement weather (snow storm, ice storm, wind storm etc.). School will not be in session for you if:

  •         Pittsfield Public Schools are closed


  •         Your “home school district” is closed – In this case school will be held but you will not attend due to the weather conditions where you live, and you will be excused from attending that day.

If there is a delay, please follow the same procedures for both your home district and Pittsfield. (If Pittsfield has a 2-hour delayed opening, you also have a two-hour delay, and if your home district has a two-hour delayed opening, you also have a two-hour delayed opening unless Pittsfield is cancelled.)

Program Expectations: School Year


Housatonic Academy operates on a 180-Day Academic Year Schedule. H.A. will also operate an extended year program of 36 days, offering academic, social and enrichment components, including  MCAS and skills based instruction during the summer months. You will receive more information about calendar specifics. If you have any questions, you or a parent/guardian should ask a teacher, the clinician or administrator.

Program Expectations: Attendance Policy


Regular school attendance is very important.  What happens in the classroom is essential to both the academic and therapeutic process. Time lost from the class can never be regained. Regular attendance not only enhances the academic experience, but also is essential to our therapeutic skill development system. Therefore, students are expected to make a commitment to regular class attendance and parents are strongly urged to assist the school by supporting the attendance policy. Excessive absenteeism may result in consequences, such as loss of academic credit and will be addressed on an individual basis through a team meeting.

Due to safety concerns, if you must be absent, a parent/guardian must contact Housatonic Academy by 8:15 am.  You need to make up all missed schoolwork on your own time.

Program Expectations: Pets


In order to maintain a safe, clean, healthy, and therapeutic environment for all of our students, Hillcrest Educational Centers does not allow pets on any of its sites at any time. Leaving a pet in a car on site is also not allowed.

However, registered and licensed service or therapy animals are allowed to assist disabled individuals while on HEC property. If a service animal is at a program site our students will be reminded to not pet or otherwise distract a service animal from the task at hand. The owner of the service animal will be responsible for cleaning up after the animal.

Program Expectations: Dress Code


Students are expected to dress responsibly, modestly, and appropriately for our school setting. Here are the rules and guidelines:

  •         Sleeveless shirts are acceptable as long as they are modest. No revealing tank tops,

muscle shirts or spaghetti straps please.

  •         Shirts should cover the upper body and midsection. Midriff tops are not acceptable.
  •         Bicycle pants/shorts are not allowed.
  •         See-through tops are not allowed.
  •         No clothing that in any way promotes drugs, alcohol, sex, violence, and/or tobacco.
  •         Shorts that are shorter than the length of the arm when fully extended are not


  •         Skirts that are shorter than 2 inches above the knee are not allowed.
  •         Jeans with inappropriate tears or rips are not allowed.
  •         No hats, bandanas, do-rags, etc. inside.
  •         Gang-related colors, apparel, clothing and jewelry cannot be worn.
  •         Cleavage should not be visible.
  •         Undergarments should not be visible.
  •         Students are expected to wear clothing appropriate for the weather, particularly on

days that students have physical education class (typically held outside).

A student who arrives at HA dressed in an inappropriate manner will need to wear HA provided clothing when available or will be sent home to change.




Hillcrest Educational Centers, Inc. has the legal and ethical responsibility to provide students with a procedure to follow in instances where they have a complaint/grievance that relates to any part of the program, it’s operation or staff or if they feel they have been subject to discrimination based on legally protected categories (race, color, national origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation or disability).


In the event that a student feels that their rights have been violated or compromised by a specific staff member or group of staff members, or in any other way while in the program, the student should do the following:


Communicate their complaint/grievance to their clinician in writing, if possible. The clinician will review the complaint/grievance and within 24 hours will notify the appropriate Program Manager/Director who will then conduct the investigation of the complaint/grievance.


The student’s clinician will submit the written complaint/grievance to the Program Manager/Director. The document will state the name of the student, staff (if this is a staff issue), and date and time of the incident that led to the grievance. The student will also outline the specifics of what happened which gave them cause for the complaint/grievance.


The Program Manager/Director, or designee, will meet with the student within 5 working days of receiving the written complaint/grievance. The Program Manager/Director, or designee, will communicate a response to the complaint/grievance to the student within 5 working days of the meeting or conversation.


If the student feels that the complaint is not satisfied, the student may send a copy of the original complaint, along with the response from the Program Manager/Director, to the Vice President of Residential Programs, requesting that the matter be further investigated. The Vice President, or designee, will meet, or have a phone conversation, with the student within 10 working days of receiving the written complaint. The Vice President, or designee, will communicate a response in writing to the student within 10 working days of the conference.


At any time in the process, the student has the right to communicate their complaint/grievance to his/her custodial or funding agency.