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The 2012 Wellness Promotion Policy Annual Report
The School District of Palm Beach County, Florida
Exceptional Student Education - School Counseling

The school-based counseling program was implemented at The School District of Palm Beach County during the 2002-2003 school year. The program was designed to serve as a related service for students with disabilities who need the benefit of special education. Students with disabilities who have emotional and/or behavioral issues which impact their ability to learn may need counseling as a related service, to ensure adequate academic engaged time and successful learning experiences. Counseling as a related service for students with disabilities constituted a change in the delivery of services in the Exceptional Students Education (ESE) Department and it is federally funded under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

The counseling program was designed to be an Individual Education Plan (IEP) driven service for K-12 students with disabilities. IEP teams should consider the following: All students identified with Emotional/Behavioral Disabilities E/BD should receive some form of counseling or mental health support as a condition of their eligibility for this program. These services include, but are not limited to individual or group counseling, parent counseling or education, and consultation with mental health, medical or other professionals. The IEP of a student with a disability may be developed to include special education and related services that enable the student to be involved in and progress in the general curriculum and to participate in extracurricular and other nonacademic activities. Academic engaged time is a factor that has been shown to predict and facilitate academic progress. If the provision of counseling for a given student with a disability will enhance the academic time for the student, it would be considered educationally relevant and should be provided as a related service and documented on the IEP.

Family Counseling

The family counseling program was coordinated by the Exceptional Student Education Program Planner and was under the supervision of the Area ESE Coordinators. There were a total of eleven Family Counselors who provided services to students on general education campuses on the 2011-2012 school year.

The primary purpose of the family counselors was to improve student academic engagement and achievement and to meet the IDEA mandate. The mandate focused on teaching and learning, and established high expectations for students with disabilities to achieve real educational results. It also called for strengthening of the role of parents in educational planning and decision-making on behalf of their children. Therefore, in an effort to meet these federal mandates, The School District of Palm Beach County implemented the family counseling program.

The goals of the program were:
  • default_titleTo address ESE students emotional needs and decrease the barriers to academic achievements.
  • default_titleTo increase positive behaviors of ESE students and enable them to participate in the general education classroom.
  • default_titleTo increase parental involvement in their children’s education by addressing the psychosocial needs of the family.
  • default_titleTo regularly address and monitor confidentiality and ethical issues.
  • default_titleTo promote partnership between the schools, families, and community.
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The family counselors followed research based counseling models that were designed to be an integral part of the student’s academic curriculum with the mission of increasing ESE students’ academic achievements and social emotional functioning in the school and in the community.

The following was a sample of the service delivery model of the program:

  • default_titleAssessment, Psycho-social evaluations, and diagnostic impressions for students in the eligibility process
  • default_titleIndividual, group, and family therapy sessions
  • default_titleOn-going Psycho-educational groups
  • default_titleParenting workshops/support groups
  • default_titleLinkage and Partnership between school and community to promote emotional health
  • default_titleStaff development and training on mental health issues
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Area Family Counselors

Top left: Andi Taub, Sherrilyn Dolman, Melanie Pallone, Claudia Higgins- Smith, Mika Karvonen, Kimberly Depatie
Bottom left: Jessie Bullard, Dana Forte, Nikole Bailey, Tina Connan