Behavioral Services Spreads Pilot Program to 21 Local Schools

This fall, the Tulare County Office of Education’s Behavior Health Services (BHS) program expanded the reach of its successful Intervention Resource Classroom (IRC), first piloted at Lindsay High School last semester. The Lindsay High School pilot, known as the Green Zone, is a safe and highly supportive classroom where students with identified behavior management issues can go when they feel overwhelmed.

In the Green Zone, students learn strategies for mitigating the stress they feel in their regular academic classes and obtain the one-on-one academic support so that they can be successful in their core academic subjects. At the November meeting of the Tulare County Board of Education, Dr. Eileen Whelan, administrator of the Behavioral Services Program, and staff members Tiffany Stark and Ryan Tanney, shared the promising data collected from students in the program. While the sample size was small, administrators recorded a substantial decrease in problem behavior and suspensions, and an increase in attendance and parent participation in the program.

BHS now operates 17 IRCs in schools across the county, with plans to open four more sites in January. The students served by IRCs include those in elementary, middle and high schools, as well as TCOE Court/Community Schools and one center for the severely handicapped. About half of the 130 students served in the IRCs this fall have not previously received any type of special education services; more than one-third have not received mental health services.

Dr. Whelan reports that the IRCs were designed in response to individual school/district needs. Twelve of the IRCs are standard classrooms, welcoming students to attend as needed. Five of the IRCs serve as “push-in” or “pull-out” resources for behavior, academic and social support. At these sites, behavioral intervention specialists work as needed with students in their own classrooms. Throughout the county, students are learning social skills utilizing several research-based curricula.

Next semester, program administrators will report on additional data collected to measure the effectiveness of the IRCs in decreasing referrals while increasing student time at school, the amount of academic work successfully completed and parent participation.

“We appreciate that so many Tulare County districts have welcomed the IRC program,” says Dr. Whelan. “We are particularly excited to work with students in elementary and middle schools, addressing problem behaviors and giving them the tools they will need to be successful young adults.”

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