Student Services provides key support
Student Services provides key support
Posted on 01/25/2017
Student Services provides key support

Removing barriers to enable students to realize their full potential and thrive in the Puyallup School District—this is how Director of Student Services Char Krause describes the role of the Student Services department.

Student Services provides essential support to the district in many critical roles. They oversee school safety and security, emergency preparedness, risk management, and student support. They serve a key role in ensuring essential services are provided to students and families who need intervention to help them be successful in the student’s education.

When asked how she manages all of the responsibilities that fall under her leadership, Krause replied, “It’s about teamwork, solving problems and building relationships, and I can’t think of anything else I would want to do when I go to work.”

Supporting students and families

There are many external circumstances that can affect a student’s education.

Student Services becomes involved when there is homelessness, lack of stable and adequate housing, behavior that results in disciplinary action, mental or emotional issues, or lack of regular attendance.

Krause said it is important to work with not only the students but the family as well. Her role is to help them learn how the system works and how they can advocate for themselves within it. “We seek to empower families to be advocates for their child and to be engaged in partnering with the schools,” she said.

Student Services hosts a Community Truancy Board that meets monthly with individual students and their family. The Truancy Board is a way to address the issues that are causing the truancies. It targets students in grades six through 11 who are ready to benefit from the community Truancy Board process. The Truancy Board meets with approximately eight students a month. It is made up of counselors, prevention intervention specialists, and volunteer school district employees who serve as community members.

When a student has reached five unexcused absences in a month, or 10 in a year, schools are required by law to file a truancy Stay petition with the courts. During the Truancy Board meetings they identify barriers for attendance, brainstorm for solutions, and hold everyone accountable with expectations for follow-through. If the problem can be solved successfully at this level the student and their family do not have to go before the court.

The Truancy Board and Student Services can help the family access additional resources and services they might need. It can help connect with prevention or intervention support if substance use is an issue, or help connect families with social services in the community.

 “The ultimate goal is for the student to have a true sense of belonging and attend school regularly and the family be the primary accountability mechanism that supports the student. The board helps the family understand how to help their child and how to communicate with the school.”
     Char Krause, director of student services

Another role of Student Services is to support families who are homeless or have unstable housing. Last year, Student Services staff assisted 440 students who were identified as lacking fixed, stable or adequate housing. The McKinney-Vento Act is a Federal Law that ensures immediate enrollment and educational stability for homeless children and youth.

Krause said there is a network that helps serve homeless families in the district. Each school has a McKinney-Vento liaison who helps identify students and reach out to support the family. The Student Services department arranges help when the student needs transportation, meals, school supplies, fees, or clothing. Each family enrolled in the McKinney-Vento program is contacted to see how Student Services can support them. “While their housing isn’t stable, the school experience is,” said Krause.

In order to provide services to students and families, Students Services writes and applies for grants annually. Additionally, community partners such as the Puyallup Kiwanis Club donate funds to help support and remove barriers for students experiencing homelessness.

“Each year we see an increase in the number of those who qualify for McKinney-Vento services. What happens in school mirrors what is going on in the community. We have students who are living in shelters, living with friends and family, and in vehicles or RV’s.”

   Char Krause, director of student services

School Safety and Security

School safety and security for the Puyallup School District falls under Student Services. They plan for emergencies and oversee Campus Security and School Resource Officers.

Student Services

There are seven Campus Safety Officers who serve in our schools. There is one in each junior high and two at each high school. They are proactive to ensure safety in the schools and develop relationships with staff and students to create a positive and safe environment. Krause meets with them monthly to provide training to facilitate safe schools.

Two Pierce County Sheriff’s Officers and one Puyallup Police Officer work full-time in Puyallup schools as School Resource Officers (SRO). Each is assigned to a high school and feeder schools. They respond to situations at their assigned schools that would require law enforcement, provide consultation, and help with training the Campus Security Officers.

The SROs provide training for school staff regarding lockdowns and school security. They are visible in the schools and interact to maintain positive relations with students and the community. They also help with district level staff training on safety and security.

Emergency preparedness

Working with the SROs and Campus Security, Student Services oversees emergency preparedness throughout the district. Emergencies include natural disasters—such as an earthquake or windstorm, man-made events, a gas leak or fire, or school-based violence.

Student Services Meeting



They are tasked with making sure all employees and students understand and are prepared for emergencies. They update plans and make sure everyone understands what to do during an emergency. They work with each building’s staff to help them customize the plans for their site and practice them.
Puyallup School Board Director Pat Donovan who is the Emergency Manager for the City of Puyallup presents on the basics of the Incident Command Structure.

Krause said it is important to partner with other agencies to constantly be preparing, planning, and practicing emergency response. She works with the City of Puyallup Emergency Operations, Pierce County Emergency Management, and Central Pierce Fire Department.

State Risk Pool Liaison

The Student Services staff work directly with the State Risk Management pool—the district’s insurance provider. “One of our jobs is to manage our risk. This involves being responsible with our policies and practices to make sure we are good stewards of our taxpayers investment, we are following the law, and when we do have loss we are managing those claims efficiently,” said Krause.

“The district strives to use our experiences where we do have loss to learn and grow and get better moving forward. We are learning from our experiences and this improves our practices,” she said.

Summary

The Student Services department provides a critical support role in the Puyallup School District. While working behind the scenes they support the students who may be at risk and need access to resources that will help them be successful. They are the backbone for working with the community and staff to ensure safety and security throughout our schools. They continually make sure Puyallup staff and students practice and are prepared for emergencies and know what to do.

“There’s nothing like rolling up your sleeves and being part of this team and I get to do that every day. Principals, families, departments, emergency responders—we are all interconnected. You can’t take this concept of removing barriers and safety and just isolate it. It’s interwoven into every aspect of education—facilities, operations, instruction, family, and community partnerships.”

Char Krause, director of student services

 

 

 

Nancy French
frenchnl@puyallup.k12.wa.us