Secondary Student Assistance Program

Mission Statement

In accordance with Section 1547 of the PA School Code, enacted as Act 211 of 1990 the mission of the Ridley School District Student Assistance Program is to develop an action plan for any student, K-12, who is identified as engaging in behavior that is endangering the health, safety and welfare of themselves or others.

Goals of the Student Assistance Program

  • To provide a systematic, comprehensive and effective mechanism to students, parents and school staff which addresses the realities of alcohol and other drug abuse and other critical issues among adolescents that interfere with learning.
  • To work cooperatively with parents to assist students by gathering pertinent information on behavior and performance.
  • To develop a personalized action plan that utilizes in-school services and to provide follow-up.
  • To offer information regarding community resources when appropriate and/or requested.
  • To increase student and community awareness regarding issues that affect a student's ability to learn.
  • To insure quality prevention, intervention and aftercare in school in accordance with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Standards and Guidelines for Student Assistance Programs.

Basic Steps to Help At-Risk Students

Step 1: Identifying students who may need help.

Who Is Involved?
Any concerned individual (school staff, family members, student) may call, write or stop to see a student's guidance counselor or a member of the SAP Team. Except for self-referrals, all referrals should be made in writing on a "Standard Referral Form."

What Happens Next?
The initial referral is processed by an administrator who passes on the referral to the SAP Team if the problem appears to be alcohol or other drug use, depression or suicidal ideation. At this point, the guidance counselor acts as the case manager for the duration of the referred student's case. The facts known at this point are thoroughly discussed and, when the facts warrant additional action, the counselor and the SAP Team move on to Step 2.

Step 2: To assemble a complete profile of a referred student's behaviors.

Who Is Involved?
A member of the Team is assigned as the case manager. Only observable behavior is used in determining if a student has a problem requiring Team action.

What Happens Next?
Reports of observable behavior, which include grades, attendance, performance in class and co-curricular activities, behavior in school, counselor information, health information, staff reports, and parent input, are collected. After the

information is collected from people who know the student; the case manager develops a profile based on the compiled factual data. The raw data and the profile are then presented to the full Team. The information is thoroughly discussed. Based on this information, the Team can determine whether the student's behavior indicates the probable existence of a problem and can back that determination with significant data.

Step 3: Acceptance and understanding by the student and family that a problem exists which needs their attention.

Who Is Involved?
The SAP Team determines who will be involved in the actual intervention meeting and whether it will be formal or informal.

What Happens Next?
An intervention is scheduled when the information gathered during Step 2 indicates that the student is demonstrating behavior that suggests a problem. There are two types of interventions the Team can conduct: informal or formal. An informal intervention is held when it is known the student and parents will not be in denial; that is, when both student and parents understand there is a problem but have no idea what action to take. This type of intervention consists of two or three Team members, the counselor, the student and the parents. The information collected (raw data and profile) is presented by the case manager during the intervention. Isolated pieces of behavior are often seen as "growing pains" or justified as "it only happened twice" or "it is just part of growing up." Presented as one package, the information is overwhelming and incontrovertible. The outcome of this intervention is to get the student and the parents to agree to an assessment by a licensed, professional assessor who will refer the student to the appropriate source of help. The conclusion of the intervention is signing a "Release of Information" form, allowing the school and the assessor to communicate with each other about the student. A formal intervention is held when it appears the student and/or parents will be in denial; that is, when either or both will consistently deny there is a problem and that fault or blame lies everywhere but with the student and parents. In the formal intervention, the entire Team, the guidance counselor, and the assessor are in attendance. The purpose of this intervention is to break down the denial and get the student/parents to the point where they can accept the information presented, not feel threatened, and agree to the assessment. In both types of interventions, the Team plans and actually rehearses the intervention. Many scenarios are played out and methods of dealing with denial and resistance are discussed. For every student who reaches Step 3, over 25 hours of time is put into the development of this process. The time is spent gathering information, practicing optimal ways of reacting to student and parent concerns and fears, presenting information in a non-threatening way, and identifying consequences should the student continue on his/her present course.

Step 4: To have the student receive a professional assessment of the problem and suggestions for treatment.

Who Is Involved?
The Ridley School District uses the professional services of an independent licensed assessor who is qualified to provide assessments and to make recommendations for treatment in addictive disorders, physical problems, and mental health concerns. The assessor determines the presenting need and then refers the student to the most appropriate place for treatment taking into consideration the student/family health insurance or lack thereof.

What Happens Next?
An appointment for assessment is usually made following the intervention. The assessment takes place during school hours and is attended by the students and representatives of the student's family. If recommendations for some type of treatment are given, the SAP case manager follows up with the student and his/her family to assess their follow through. If aftercare is necessary, an aftercare planning session will be held prior to the student's return to school. If the appointment for the assessment is not kept or if treatment recommendations are not accepted, the student is placed back on the regular discipline policy of the school. Usually a second intervention will occur because the student's behavior continues to deteriorate.

Step 5: To provide the student with support through the recovery period and to help successful reintegration to school life.

Who Is Involved?
The treatment facility, the Student Assistance Counselor and the student's guidance counselor meet with the student prior to his/her return to school.

What Happens Next?
The Ridley School District runs numerous groups for support. They include Alcohol and Other Drug Aftercare and Mental Health Aftercare. The District also provides prevention groups, special subject groups (e.g., Children of Alcoholics, Death/Dying and Separation), Life Skills and developmental groups. The student may be assigned a standing appointment with his/her counselor or case manager. The case manager is responsible to insure that information concerning community support programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous is available to the student.

Student Assistance Program Team Members

Miss Gail L. Heinemeyer
Director of Support Services

Mr. Robert A. Rigby
Student Assistance Program Coordinator
610.534.1900-Ext. 1312
robert_rigby@ridleysd.k12.pa.us

Dr. Suzanna Lack
Assessor- 610.534.1900 Ext. 1279

Ridley High School SAP Team

Mr. Dave Maiers; Assistant Principal; Ext. 1205
Mrs. Tina Nester; Director of Medical Services; Ext. 1212
Mrs. Kelli Werts; Guidance Counselor; Ext. 1213
Mrs. Sharon Kotzen; Guidance Counselor; Ext. 1215
Mr. Jeff Lubas; Guidance Counselor; Ext. 1214
Mr. Dennis Frimmer; Guidance Counselor; Ext. 1217
Ms. Allison Maginnis; Guidance Counselor; Ext. 1216
Mrs. Angel Wagner; Guidance Counselor; Ext. 1219
Mrs. Linda Golden-Rigby; Guidance Counselor; Ext. 1218
Mr. Robert Young; Dean of Students; Ext. 1253
Mrs. Theresa Marsden; Dean of Students; Ext. 1252
Mrs. Nadine Metro; School Psychologist; Ext. 1466
Ms. Erin Cianciarulo; Social Worker; Ext. 1147

Ridley Middle School SAP Team
Mrs. Denea Klisch; Assistant Principal; Ext. 1303
Ms. Terri Mitch; School Nurse; Ext. 1314
Ms. Kee Lee; School Psychologist; Ext. 1325
Ms. Jackie Devine; Guidance Counselor; Ext. 1321
Mrs. Juli Decker; Guidance Counselor; Ext. 1318
Ms. Maureen Leardi; Guidance Counselor; Ext. 1319
Mr. Tim Oswald; Guidance Counselor; Ext. 1320
Mr. Damon Wade; Dean of Students; Ext. 1315
Ms. Erin Cianciarulo; Social Worker; Ext. 1147

Ad hoc members

Ms. Nina Patterson; SAP Liaison - Crozer
Ms. Michelle Hill; SAP Case Manager - Crozer

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How do I know when a piece of information should be brought to the Team? When do I refer a student? Does the Team accept hearsay evidence?

A. When in doubt, tell a Team member what you know. The Team will decide if the evidence is substantial enough to warrant further investigation. Information must be firsthand and evidence must be substantiated and a decision, based on facts, is made. If the data does not warrant continuation, the case is dropped or put on hold. If the data warrants further action, the recommendation would be to move to Step 3.
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Q. How can I be sure that something I tell the Team will not involve a student in disciplinary trouble at school or at home?

A. The specific information you give the Team is kept confidential. The Team is not involved in discipline, so the student will never be "busted" for anything you tell the Team. Students who self-refer, providing they are not under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, nor distributing or selling same, are not subject to disciplinary action.
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Q. What about depression and suicidal behavior?

A. Except for emergencies, these cases are handled in the same manner as alcohol and other drug issues. The school psychologist on the Team is the person who will respond to these referrals and make the appropriate recommendations.
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Q. Does the Team deal with "experimental" drug use or just abuse/dependency?

A. Both. The Ridley School District recognizes the need to deal with the health implications of lower level use/abuse through education and counseling.

The Ridley School District Student Assistance Program is funded through the Safe and Drug-free Schools and Communities Grant, the Safe Schools Initiative Grant, and the Pennsylvania Accountability Block Grant programs.

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