M-U staff begin PBIS training

By Matt Clevenger

For Miami Valley Today

WEST MILTON — Staff members from three different Milton-Union School district buildings have started new state-mandated training designed to help them handle students with behavioral issues.

“PBIS stands for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support,” district superintendent Dr. Brad Ritchey told board members during their regularly scheduled meeting on Sunday, Jan. 12. “We did have participants representing all three buildings participate in PBIS building-wide training, day one on Friday.”

“Implementation of a PBIS program is mandatory district wide,” he said. “There are two more trainings involved, but supposedly by the time our teams are done with day three they are ready. We are going to try to maintain a target of the beginning of next year to do that.”

The behavior issues seen most frequently are insubordination and disrespect, Dr. Ritchey said.

“Typically, the high-incidence behaviors are things like insubordination and disrespect,” he said. “We can do emergency removals, but the student’s coming back the next day.”

“It’s tough on the child, because typically the child is coming from trauma,” Dr. Ritchey said. “It seems like a lot of school districts in the county are dealing with the same issues. The danger is that a child might get identified as special needs, and might just be coming from trauma.”

“Depending on the level of need, that student could be served in the classroom, or that student could be served in another special education classroom in the building,” he said, “or perhaps the most appropriate placement is outside the district.”

Staff at all district buildings are trained to handle students in crisis or having other behavioral issues, and the district even has special teams prepared to handle especially difficult situations.

“PBIS won’t answer everything,” Dr. Ritchey said. “Our people are trained in crisis prevention. It’s really a way not to have to put your hands on children, and to get them to calm down without ever having to touch them.”

“Typically, that means that you clear the room,” he said. “If there’s behavior going on that’s dangerous, you get the other children out of there.”

The district also uses teams comprised of teachers, the building principal and a social worker who are trained to intervene with students in crisis. “That would be the first step,” Dr. Ritchey said. “The teacher is part of that team, the classroom aid is part of that team, and typically all of those folks are trained as well.”

“If a child is coming from trauma, it’s going to take a lot of extra work and a lot of resources,” he said. “I think sometimes maybe human nature is to, unfortunately, villainize children that are in crisis. Really, they don’t want to be behaving the way they are.”

“It’s disturbing,” he said. “Most of us sitting here, school worked for us. It’s different, and I think it’s likely to get worse.

“These are very special circumstances,” he said of students with behavioral issues. “but I’m afraid they are going to get more frequent. “It’s disturbing; most of us sitting here, school worked for us… It’s different, and I think it’s likely to get worse.”

In other business, board members also approved a contract with Premier Samaritan Behavioral Health Inc., for therapy services that will be covered by the state’s recent student success and wellness initiative. Board members also approved the negotiation of an upcoming contract with Stepping Stones, Inc. to provide an additional school psychologist for the district.

“This individual would be able to work with kids in k-12,” Dr. Ritchey said. “Space is at a premium. We’re going to have to figure out where that office would be.”