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The 2015 Wellness Promotion Policy Annual Report
The School District of Palm Beach County, Florida
Exceptional Student Education - School Psychological Services

The School Psychological Services Department is part of the Exceptional Student Education Department. Palm Beach County School Psychological Services provided consultations, interventions, crisis assistance, behavior management, assessments, diagnoses, progress monitoring, and counseling for students enrolled in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. There were 98 school psychologists employed in the District in the 2014-2015 school year.

In addition, The School District of Palm Beach County continued to implement a multi-tiered problem solving model called Response to Intervention (RtI) to address all concerns in the classroom, both academic and behavioral. This included high quality, research based instruction and behavioral support in general education, universal screening of academics and behavior to identify at risk students who needed close monitoring and additional interventions, research-based interventions matched to student needs that provided increasing intensity of assistance, continuous monitoring of student progress to assure the goals are being met, and documentation and follow-up to assure the interventions were followed accurately and consistently.

Consultation services were also provided for teachers, parents, and administrators to assist them in the development and adjustment of programs to meet the needs of all students. In addition, the school psychologist administers comprehensive evaluations of intellectual ability, personal/emotional/behavioral adjustment, academic achievement, and learning styles of referred students. The school psychologist functions as a member of the total educational staff, providing services to all schools, usually on an itinerant basis.

Resources at the National, State, and District Level:
The Multicultural School Psychology Team

The Multicultural School Psychology Team of The School District of Palm Beach County was comprised of 13 bilingual school psychologists. There were 9 Spanish-speaking and 4 Creole-speaking school psychologists who served the entire county's bilingual/bicultural student population and their families. Additionally, several members of the team worked specifically with pre-kindergarten students and their families, referred for testing through Child Find.

Their evaluations address the needs of this diverse student body through the use of cultural and language sensitive services, which attempts to minimize bias. A majority of the students serviced speak Spanish and Creole and benefited from testing through the department as they were able to communicate in English or their home language during testing; and they identified culturally with the practitioner, which built rapport and promoted an optimal test atmosphere. The remaining speakers of other languages also benefited from the services as they have a great deal of experience working with diverse students, are culturally aware/sensitive, and are highly skilled in the use of non-verbal test instruments.

Additionally, the duties included collaborating with school-based staff to assess the English language proficiency of these students, which facilitated appropriate implementation of interventions. The team also provided counseling services to students and staff as needed, which promoted mental health ensuring a positive academic experience for all.

The Pre-Kindergarten/ChildFind Team

The Pre-Kindergarten/ChildFind Team of The School District of Palm Beach County was comprised of 9 school psychologists, working out of 6 locations throughout Palm Beach County. The purpose of Pre-Kindergarten/Child Find Team is to assist in discovering whether your child has special learning needs, to identify what those needs are, and to provide the programs and services which will best address them. The steps involved in this process include: Screening, Evaluation, Eligibility and Placement, and Program Participation.

The Internship Program

Each year the School Psychological Services Department trains interns from various universities around the state and nation. The Internship program provides approximately 1500 hours of supervised experience, with interns observing the opening of a school year and participating in the closing of that year. Each supervisor is trained as a clinical educator. Interns are given a diverse opportunity for experiences in multiple settings. In addition to being assigned to one of the four area offices, school psychologists will also have an opportunity to work in the Multicultural Department, Early Childhood Education (Pre-Kindergarten), Severely Emotionally Handicapped Center School and Alternative Education Sites. School Psychologist Interns will have two different supervisors and will rotate their assignment in January.

School Psychologists provided the following services:

  • default_titleCollaborated with staff and parents to find effective solutions to learning and behavior problems.
  • default_titleHelped others understand child development and how it affected learning and behavior.
  • default_titleStrengthened working relationships between teachers, parents, and service providers in the community.
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  • default_titleEvaluated eligibility for special services.
  • default_titleAssessed academic skills and aptitude for learning.
  • default_titleDetermined social-emotional development and mental health status.
  • default_titleEvaluated learning environments.
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  • default_titleProvided psychological counseling to help resolve conflicts that interfere with school performance.
  • default_titleProvided training in social skills and anger management.
  • default_titleHelped families and schools manage crises such as death, illness, or community trauma.
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  • default_titlePromoted tolerance, understanding, and appreciation of diversity within the school community.
  • default_titleDeveloped programs to make schools safer and more effective learning environments.
  • default_titleCollaborated with school staff and community agencies to provide services directed at improving psychological and physical health.
  • default_titleDeveloped partnerships with parents and teachers to promote healthy school environments.
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Research and Planning
  • default_titleEvaluated the effectiveness of academic and behavior management programs.
  • default_titleIdentified and implemented programs and strategies to improve schools.
  • default_titleUsed evidence-based research to develop and/or recommend effective interventions.
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Special Events

This past school year, the Department of School Psychological Services, along with the departments of School Counseling, Safe Schools, and outside community agencies, organized the 2nd Annual Student Mental Health and Wellness Conference (SMHaWC 2.0) at Park Vista High School in Boynton Beach, FL.

This event was a full-day professional development opportunity for educators committed to a student-first philosophy and recognize that family engagement matters. Its focus was on providing participants with critical information about successful practice and resources related to student mental health and wellness. Over 25 professionals presented to more than 250 educators on topics such as:

  • default_titleBody Image
  • default_titlePersonal Safety
  • default_titleBullying Prevention
  • default_titleWhole School Wellness
  • default_titleTrauma Informed Care
  • default_titleEarly Identification
  • default_titleCreating Positive and Safe School Cultures
  • default_titleCommunity Collaboration and Referral
  • default_titleMental Health and Wellness Across Cultures
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Community agency participants included:
  • default_titleNational Alliance on Mental Illness
  • default_titleChrysalis Health
  • default_titleFaulk Center for Counseling
  • default_titleTomorrow's Rainbow
  • default_titleTri-Angle Consulting
  • default_titleAlliance for Eating Disorder Awareness
  • default_titleAmerican Association of Caregiving Youth
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Professional Advocacy

Adrienne Avallone, Psy.S., NCSP, a school psychologist in Area 4, was recently voted as the South East Regional Representative for the Florida Association of School Psychologists (FASP). FASP has 7 regional representatives throughout Florida that act as liaisons between the organization’s executive board and membership within their respective areas.

Resources at the National, State, and District Level