At the Housatonic Academy, we have a set of interventions and procedures designed to utilize the philosophy of Skills for Life in a day school setting. Safety and accountability are key elements in providing an environment that promotes learning, skill development and personal growth. When the safety of students and staff become compromised, we have processes to address these situations.
SFL Tools & Privileges: Housatonic Academy has a set of educational tools, emotion regulation tools and self-soothing tools that are allowed by all students. When a student arrives at the Housatonic Academy, they are provided with the initial opportunities of the following unless a high-risk assessment indicates otherwise:
- Sensory Rooms
- Coping tools identified on ICMP
- Indoor & Outdoor sports (football, basketball, etc).
- Use of classroom computers during free time.
- Off-campus trips for educational or medical purposes.
- Use of MP3 (that does not have camera or WiFi capability) with monitoring for appropriateness.
There are additional privileges that students may petition to utilize during appropriate times of the school day. However, any tools or privileges that have potential to cause harm or to put a student in a high-risk situation may need to be restricted or removed until the student exhibits the safety and skills required for using these tools and privileges.
A student can negotiate for additional privileges by completing the application form and submitting it for review at a Safety & Accountability Meeting (SAM). Requests will be reviewed within 5 school days of their submission. Privileges listed on the application are as follows:
- On campus vocational work program
- Off campus jobs
- Use of equipment which has safety requirements.
- Individual transitions.
- Participation on a sports team.
- Greenhouse participation
- Being a mentor
- Being mentored
- Visiting public schools.
- Attending classes at a public school.
Decisions about these petitions are guided by the student’s assessment of individual risk factors and their related treatment progress. Privileges will never be denied as a form of punishment. A student may appeal a privilege decision by writing the Program Director. Thier specific reason for disagreement must be included.
If a student has a serious event (as deemed by an administrator), has been placed on Safety Watch (see below) and/or was involved in a criitical incident, the student will lose all additional privileges listed above. Before additional privileges are restored, safety must be restored and repairs completed. A SAM review of the incident (or another form of meeting designated by the Program Director) will provide the final decision of additional privileges being restored. Standard tools and opportunities will only be removed if they cause a specific safety risk to the student or others.
Safety Watch: When a student engages in a behavior or incident that creates a safety concern for self or others, staff will increase the supervision and support of this student to ensure that the student has the needed supports and resources to restore safety. High risk situations and incidents that may result in the use of a safety watch include self-harm, serious incidents that caused or could have caused harm to self and/or others, psychiatric and/or trauma symptoms, crises outside of school, serious medical/medication issues.
A Child Study Team (CST) and/or Administrative team will develop a template of the safety watch form for each student based on that student’s specific high risk behaviors/situations, typical interventions needed and typical amount of time needed to return to baseline. Safety Watch is individualized, as different students will require different and specific supports and resources. Likewise, based on a student’s age, developmental level and intellectual functioning, the removal from Safety Watch will be based upon that child’s baseline presentation. It will not be based on a generic amount of time, but rather safety criteria that will be reviewed at regular intervals.
Repairs: It is also expected that when students engage in situations that cause harm to others or the environment, they will complete an act of repair in order to restore any damaged relationships or environment and to ensure a fresh start. There is a repair Card that is utilized in these situations. The staff and student complete the card together, identifying how the student will make the repair. When the repair is complete, the student and those who were recipients of the repair act will provide comments on the card, reflecting on the repair act.