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Great News!! "Area schools required to institute suicide prevention programs this year" news article
September 17, 2015
Two school districts in the Carlisle area have plans to implement a new program in time for the new school year.
The districts are looking to implement a suicide awareness and prevention program into their district curriculum in compliance with the state’s 2014 amendment to a public school code on Youth Suicide Awareness and Prevention and Child Exploitation awareness education. The amended program, now known as Act 71, requires each school entity in the state of Pennsylvania to “adopt an age-appropriate youth suicide awareness and prevention policy.”
South Middleton School District Superintendent Al Moyer and Carlisle Area School District Assistant Superintendent Christina Spielbauer, said their districts have already drafted a policy consistent with the state guidelines in Act 71.
“We actually have a policy that is up for a second reading,” Moyer said. “It’s already been board approved for a first reading, and now it will become official after the second reading on Aug. 17.”
Spielbauer said the policy personnel committee for the Carlisle school district was going to discuss adopting the administrative draft of the policy, and based on their recommendation, will make a motion to move it forward for the full board approval on Aug. 20.
Moyer and Spielbauer believe that both policies should go over without a hitch in front of the school boards.
Act 71 calls for all districts to adopt a plan that will include four hours of training in youth suicide awareness and prevention every five years for professional educators in school buildings serving students in grades six through 12, the development of a youth suicide awareness and prevention curriculum that is available to all school entities (including non-public school upon request), protocols for administering youth suicide prevention and awareness education to staff and students, methods of prevention, methods of intervention and procedures for early identification and referral of students at risk of suicide.
Administrators from both districts said their drafted policies outline everything that the state is requiring school districts to adopt. “We’re pretty much going with what they have our school districts mandated to do,” Spielbauer said.
“We embed some of that instruction and preventative strategies already in our Health and P.E. curriculum. But, we pretty much followed the guidelines,” Moyer said. “We certainly want to meet the minimal requirements, but we’re also interested in going beyond the minimum.”
Moyer and Spielbauer said they don’t believe that the implementation of the program will be a struggle, saying that their respective districts already engage students who may be struggling with issues outside of the classroom.
South Middleton currently conducts child and youth surveys, as well as At-Risk surveys, and use the data collected from both studies to adjust the district’s curriculum in order to meet the needs of students, Moyer said. He also said the district tries to be proactive in ways of identifying at risk students and by having school counselors and a psychologist “at least work with them (at risk
students) to some degree.”
If anything, Spielbauer added, the most difficult aspect of implementing the new program will be ensuring that all staff members are completing the required training. Spielbauer noted that getting staff members to complete training requirements has never been a problem in the past.
Moyer expressed his usual displeasure with state mandating, especially unfunded mandates, but said this mandate is something that he fully supports.