The Laurel School Board approved a three-year agreement with New Castle-based Angelus Therapeutic Services Inc. for school mental health and wellness services.
The settlement runs from January 9 to June 30, 2024, and will be paid for using a $115,000 Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency grant.
This service within the school will be in addition to the existing ‘Compass’ school counseling programme, which runs separately.
Under the agreement, Angelus will provide various services within the school.
Practitioners can assist in the planning and development of mental health support for children and families, target and coordinate assistance as needed by observing students within the classroom, provide feedback or guidance to teachers, provide families with mental health foundation and skills development, assist families in understanding systems of care and where to make connections for student well-being.
Workers will be able to monitor students or refer people to mental and behavioral health services, acting as a liaison between agencies and the district.
Under the agreement, Angelus can also:
• Develop relationships with a student or family by conducting interviews with staff, students, families, reviewing records, and collaborating with others in human services work;
•Assist in identifying resources to help meet basic needs;
• Review the district mental health services policy and make recommendations;
• Provide observations, evaluations and written reports in a timely and efficient manner;
• Actively participate in any district student welfare committee;
• Help develop mechanisms for early identification of children and families with specialized mental health and behavioral needs;
• Actively consult with teachers and school administration about complex mental health and behavioral trends and their impact on the classroom;
•Develop, deliver and coordinate identified training for families and school staff;
•Facilitate small groups of students;
• Create and implement a streamlined system for student referrals.
When it comes to consulting school staff and parents/guardians, Angelus recommends having a weekly ‘consultation hour’ for school staff members, while also having a virtual hour for parents and guardians.
When dealing with small groups of students, groups might meet during lunchtime or right after school, with topics such as making healthy social connections, communication, mindfulness, staying focused when feeling distracted, and healthy use of social average.
Currently, the Shenango Area School District uses Angelus in a similar way.
Superintendent Leonard Rich said a licensed social worker will be available for 1,278 hours under the agreement and will be used to help with students’ mental health issues, particularly as they emerge from the pandemic.
The school board has updated some district policies, allowing the district to immediately enroll students experiencing homelessness, foster care, and other forms of educational instability, even if the student or parent/guardian is unable to produce the required documents.
In the event that a parent/guardian has stipulated a contract for the purchase, construction or rental of a house in the district for residential use, students can be enrolled without paying the tuition fee for no more than 60 calendar days.
If the student or students do not become a resident of the district within that period, tuition must be claimed retroactively to the first day of enrollment until residency is established.
Other policy changes involved students experiencing educational instability, transportation for foster children, and helping students with an individualized education program.
The board accepted the retirement of transportation director Joseph Sager, effective June 30, and raised the prices of a la carte items for breakfast and lunch.
The board also accepted the resignation of high school principal Mark Frengel, who will become junior high school principal for Mohawk.
As part of the transition plan, Frengel will stay with Laurel for up to 60 days before moving to the Mohawk.