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Policy for at risk students under review in Natchez-Adams School District

By Christian Coffman

NATCHEZ — The Natchez-Adams School District is currently reviewing a policy that focuses on counseling children who are at risk of harming themselves.

The policy would mandate mental health procedures, many of which are already in use, but a specific district-wide policy has not be written or adopted.

Deputy Superintendent Zandra McDonald said the proposed policy addresses the need to support students who exhibit signs and symptoms consistent with students who show self-destructive behavior.

“District counselors have been using the procedure for a while,” McDonald said. “Community agencies have been very supportive of this process and parents have been grateful that the district has been proactive in supporting students who need the additional assistance.”

McDonald said no significant rise in cases was causing the policy discussion. Administrators wanted to make sure a mandated policy was in place, she said.

McDonald said when a student makes statements or the staff recognizes signs indicating possible risk of harmful behavior, administrators will notify parents about statements made and the need for the student to be assessed by a mental health professional.

The parent or guardian is then notified and required to come to the school to meet with the administrator and/or counselor. The student is then released into the custody of the parent or guardian, or the parent’s emergency contact of record.

The student at risk may return to their school after the parent and student meet with the school administrator and/or designee and provide a statement from a licensed mental health professional or physician.

The school administrator or designee must provide the parent or an emergency contact with a written list of appropriate community mental health resources.

Robert Lewis Magnet School Counselor Tonika Green said she has been helping students for two years at the school and said if the students feel they are at risk, they should seek help.

“If any adult is around if a student is not comfortable talking to me, then they should go to an adult,” Green said.

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