The second session of this year’s School Safety Meeting Series convened on November 19th at CASDA’s offices. The discussion, titled “Transition Planning for Students Who Are Re-Entering the Home School,” focused on navigating complex issues such as confidentiality, communication between out-placement facilities and the home school and appropriate accommodations to ensure the student’s successful reintegration to the scholastic environment.
This meeting featured CASDA’s first “blended delivery” presentation. The roundtable was attended in CASDA’s East Campus conference room by representatives of the Averill Park, Hudson City and Rensselaer City School Districts while attendees from Herkimer BOCES participated through our distance learning technology’s streaming capabilities. This “blended delivery” seamlessly integrated conferees from both locations and facilitated a lively and organic discourse.
The presentation was chaired by CASDA Faculty member Terry Brewer and featured contributions from panelists Michael Bennett, Assistant Superintendent from Schodack Central School District as well as CASDA Faculty members Dr. Sherry Dickinson, a retired ELA and Special Education specialist from the Parsons School, and Pam Roberge, a retired Special Education Improvement Specialist from Questar III BOCES.
The discussion elucidated the complex forces that must be negotiated to ensure a successful student transition. Information from out-placement facilities, the Department of Social Services, Child Protective Services and the Court System is often necessary to understanding the totality of a student’s situation. This becomes further complicated when students move between counties and districts, involving even more institutional apparatuses.
Many participants shared that their schools establish a “point-person” to oversee the process of student transitions. Michael Bennett stated that he believed that building principals were best equipped to serve in this capacity. He argued that building principals have the necessary scope and “clout” to best coordinate the efforts of the out-placement facilities and governmental institutions with those of the teachers, guidance counselors and staff in the home school environment.
While it was generally agreed that this model represents best practice, it was abundantly clear that an “ideal” transition exists only in the abstract. It is far more common for educators to be caught completely by surprise with little to no time to prepare for a successful reintegration. In these difficult circumstances, administrators and teachers are both forced to simply make the best possible decisions, drawing on the limited information that is available to them. In discussing this reality, roundtable participants expressed a desire to create a protocol for situations when a student simply “shows up on the doorstep”.
Future discussions surrounding this issue are currently being organized by CASDA and will continue to utilize the “blended delivery” model to bring as many perspectives as possible to this important issue for school safety and student well-being.