eNewsletter - September 2016
Behavioral Health Partners
Senate Bill 100 School Disciplinary Policy Changes and the Rethink Program
Nadjeh Awadallah, EdD, LCPC
Senate Bill 100 (SB100), passed by the Illinois House of Representatives on May 20, 2016, has lead schools to revise student disciplinary policies on a statewide scale. These revisions represent not only a systemic shift in protocol; they also embody a cultural shift among educational stakeholders in their approach to addressing student behavioral issues in schools.
Effective September 15, 2016, all Illinois public and charter schools will be required to make these changes. The call for change was brought about to address a trend in disparity across student populations with culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. These changes aim to impact the process by which students are suspended and/or expelled. Per the SB100 legislation:
"Out-of-school suspensions of longer than three days, expulsions, and disciplinary removals to alternative schools may be used only if other appropriate and available behavioral and disciplinary interventions have been exhausted and the student's continuing presence in school would either (i) pose a threat to the safety of other students, staff, or members of the school community or (ii) substantially disrupt, impede, or interfere with the operation of the school."
-Available at: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus_pf.asp?DocNum=100
Under these new state guidelines, schools will be obligated to do-away with “zero-tolerance” practices, must facilitate student “re-engagement”, and must leave expulsion as a last resort after all other punitive avenues are explored.
As a result of these new guidelines, school are revamping their current student substance abuse polices and investigating programs that would serve as an alternative to suspension for students who are caught using drugs or alcohol.
As a result of this need and our longstanding partnership with area schools, Linden Oaks has developed the student substance abuse intervention program called Rethink. The ReThink Program offers students the opportunity to seek substance abuse intervention as an alternative to school suspension.
This substance abuse mediation program is designed for adolescents who have used drugs or alcohol. Its goal is to foster emotional growth while emphasizing strategic approaches to avoiding substance use.
Referral to the program by educators and school administrators serves as a means to instill collaboration between students, their parents and schools to addresses substance use behavior. ReThink also connects students and families to behavioral health/addiction services, if needed. It is offered free of charge, and is structured as a blended curriculum, using both online and in-person course components.
Students enrolled in ReThink receive instruction via an online learning module in the “independent study” portion of the course. This allows for students to work at a pace comfortable for them. The course includes online animated lectures and a companion workbook with 14 reflective exercises. These exercises cover self-evaluation, drug prevention/behavioral change and the importance of establishing support resources.
Since SB100 will make in-school punitive measures far more common, the online phase of ReThink was designed with this in mind. It is an option for students to complete the online portion of this program in school, if necessary.
The program also requires the student to attend a 90-minute in-class lecture with a parent at a Linden Oaks facility. Course instruction will focus on the topics of anger and stress management, triggers, signs/symptoms of use, and behaviors/breaking habits while reinforcing the skills learned in the online module.
This course was founded on evidence-based principles and incorporates Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) skills to aid in addressing stressors in a healthier way. The third phase of the program is an online screening tool which assesses the need for additional addiction and substance abuse intervention.
The ReThink Program was piloted with schools near the Linden Oaks Elmhurst Outpatient Center and Linden Oaks Arlington Heights Campus/Northwest Community Healthcare location during the 2015-16 school year. Local high school and middle school students attended programming, and feedback from parents and school officials has been overwhelmingly positive. Rethink will return to Arlington Heights location and will be added at the new Hinsdale and Naperville outpatient facilities for the 2016-2017 school year.
Any adolescent, 12-years and up, is eligible for the Rethink program. Below is the information to enroll. If a school is referring a student to the Rethink program, both the school representative and participant should contact Linden Oaks.
ENROLLMENT BY LOCATION:
- Arlington Heights Campus/Northwest Community Healthcare
901 W. Kirchoff Road, Arlington Heights
- Hinsdale Outpatient Center
8 Salt Creek Lane, Edward-Elmhurst Health Center, Hinsdale
(331) 221-2520, Option 2
- Naperville Outpatient Center
1335 N. Mill Street, Naperville
Nadjeh Awadallah, EdD, LCPC
Nadjeh is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and Community Liaison for Linden Oaks Arlington Heights Campus/Northwest Community Healthcare. Nadjeh holds advanced degrees in clinical psychology as well as education, and has worked in the mental health field since 2008 as both a clinician and an educator. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee and the Illinois School of Professional Psychology, Nadjeh earned a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology and completed his practicum internship at Catholic Charities-Diocese of Joliet. Nadjeh also earned a Doctorate in Education from Argosy University. He is a member of the faculty at Argosy and Rockford University; teaching upper-division courses in Psychology and Human Development since 2012. Nadjeh previously worked as a therapist and program developer for Swedish American Hospital, and in the Intake and Assessment Department at Rogers Memorial Hospital.