Holy Trinity tackles tough behaviour issues

Nathan Liewicki
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Dealing with behaviour-troubled students comes with challenges: report

The Holy Trinity Catholic School Division’s (HTCSD) Student Services Accountability Report (SSAR) was well received by board members Monday. 

Elaine Oak, superintendent of education with the Holy Trinity Catholic School Divison discusses the Student Services Accountability Report during Monday's board meeting

The Holy Trinity Catholic School Division’s (HTCSD) Student Services Accountability Report (SSAR) was well received by board members Monday. 

“Its never been broken down for us before in such a precise manner,” said Patricia Gottselig, a Moose Jaw-based trustee.

She was referring to the specificity by which students with an array of needs were presented in the report.

The Times-Herald was, however, not granted access to the SSAR.

Gottselig was very impressed by the report, noting just how informative it was.

“Boards invest a lot of time and money in special needs students, so it's good to know where the money is going,” said Gottselig. “I thought it was presented in a really factual manner so it was easier to understand.” 

Elaine Oak, the superintendent of education for HTCSD, delivered the report and touched on a few of the challenges division staff have in supporting with behavioural issues.

She explained to board members of the need for an increase in staff to teach students with intensive behaviours.

“Teachers take training to help children self-regulate if they have behavioural troubles,” said Oak. “They have that background and we do lots of responsive school training.”

The training HTCSD teachers have is generally quite basic.

While teachers are capable of dealing with students whose behaviours are destructive or defiant, if it becomes too much for them to handle support teachers are called upon to provide additional support.

It’s at this stage that teachers and principals alike collect data on students with behavioural issues.

“If the child continues not to respond to interventions then the next step is to bring the data to the consultants … then we step in and help,” said Oak.

That help comes in the form of outside agencies, such as Mental Health and Addictions, Social Services and police. The key thing – for the benefit of the student – is after consulting with a child’s parents and the appropriate agencies, a plan is developed to best support the child and family.

When outside agencies are called in to deal with students who have excessive behavioural issues, HTCSD deems it a complex needs case.

Oak presented an example of a complex needs case from the first half of the school year. It eventually saw a student with major behavioural issues properly diagnosed, medicated and without disruptions for an extended period of time.

Another of the challenges Oak included in her report was that HTCSD has seen increase in younger students – kindergarten and pre-kindergarten children – who are entering the school system with behavioural issues.

These issues need to be dealt with immediately, she stated. 

“Their self-regulation skills aren't what they used to be in the past,” Oak said comparing today’s younger students to those of years long ago. “And I think just family issues and what's happening at home has caused some behaviour issues with little ones.”

In the end, the board accepted the SSAR.

Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks

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