Rapid City schools updating students-at-risk policy

June 14, 2019

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — After losing six students to suicide in the last several years, a South Dakota school district has reworked its strategy to better identify students at risk of taking their own lives.

The Board of Education at Rapid City Area Schools will vote on the new policy later this month that administrators say is less of a reactive approach and aimed more at prevention.

Work on the new policy began in early 2017 after three high school students died of suicide between July and September, according to Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Matt Seebaum. Three more students have committed suicide since then, the Rapid City Journal reported.

More school employees, including social workers and resources officers, are to receive training on how to identify students who appear to be at risk for suicide under the new policy. Seebaum said parents and guardians will also be notified when their child exhibits risk factors sooner than is currently required.

School social workers, counselors or psychologists will screen a student’s risk level with the widely-used diagnostic tool Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale. Results are provided to the student’s parents or guardians who are given an acknowledgement form to sign. The school district will direct them to medical or mental health providers for further evaluation or treatment of the student if needed.

The school district had already been required to follow up with parents and guardians after they had been notified of their child’s risk of suicide, but under the new policy they would have to do so within one week. Staff will work with families to develop a plan for re-entry if a student is taken out of school.


Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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