[HISTORY: Adopted by the County Legislature of the County of Ulster as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Article I School-Based Mental Health and Safety
[Adopted 7-23-2013 by L.L. No. 2-2013]
Editor's Note: This local law, a complete copy of which is on file in the County offices, also included a list of resolutions pertaining to its legislative history.
This article shall be known as the Ulster County School-based Mental Health And Safety Act of 2013.
The Ulster County Legislature finds that a lack of adequate mental health services significantly affects school attendance and limits academic success for students suffering from mental health issues. It has been demonstrated that access to school-based mental health treatment services improves school attendance and academic performance, and is especially effective in rural areas, like Ulster County, where families are often unable to travel great distances to reach mental health professionals.
It is imperative that students receive greater access to mental health services, which will both increase school attendance and academic performance, and also alleviate the pressure on families in Ulster County struggling with their child's mental health needs, coupled with a lack of access to adequate mental health service. The stigmatization of people dealing with mental health issues combined with the economic pressures on schools has reduced access to mental health services in Ulster County. Recent funding cuts to Ulster County based mental health programs have only exacerbated this gap in services.
School districts in Ulster County depend on the Ulster Board of Educational Cooperative Services (BOCES) for a variety of programs and services to meet their educational and financial goals. The BOCES model provides accountability, municipal sharing, efficiency and equity. As such, school districts may authorize Ulster BOCES to centralize mental health professionals and deploy staff to meet the individual needs of each school district.
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
- BOARD OF COOPERATIVE EDUCATIONAL SERVICES (BOCES)
- Created in 1948 by the New York State legislature, BOCES serves New York State schools. BOCES has grown from the birth of the cooperative services concept in 1948 to the present through an evolutionary process combining the success of BOCES services with appropriate changes in legislation. The BOCES of New York State have become true educational service agencies serving local school districts, the community, and the State Education Department. New York General Municipal Law, § 119-n, Subdivision a, the definition of a municipal corporation includes a board of cooperative educational services (BOCES).
- COMMISSIONER OF THE ULSTER COUNTY MENTAL HEALTH DEPARTMENT (COMMISSIONER OF MENTAL HEALTH)
- Pursuant to Article VI, § C-44, of the Ulster County Charter, is experienced in public mental health administration and meets the qualifications for this position as specified in the New York State Mental Hygiene Law and/or by the State Commissioner of Mental Hygiene. He or she shall have and exercise all the powers and duties conferred or imposed upon a Director of Community Mental Health or Community Services Board by the Mental Hygiene Law or any other law.
- COMMUNITY SERVICES BOARD (CSB)
- Pursuant to Article VI, § C-45, of the Ulster County Charter, consists of 15 members who have demonstrated interest in behavioral health services.
- INTERMUNICIPAL SHARED SERVICES AGREEMENT (ISSA)
- The joint provision, performance, or delivery of a service, facility, activity, project or undertaking by two or more municipalities which each may lawfully undertake separately. For purposes of this article, school districts shall be considered and treated as municipalities.
- SCHOOL-BASED MENTAL HEALTH CLINIC (SBMH)
- A treatment center within each school for the purposes of treating mental health issues which offers an assortment of programs and services targeting those students who have emotional and behavioral difficulties in educational settings.
- SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICER (S.R.O.) PROGRAM
- A member of law enforcement hired by the school district who visits classrooms and teaches students concepts of safety, traffic laws, general law, and crime prevention techniques. The S.R.O. will work closely with individual teachers to create special programs tailored to specific units of study to help increase student awareness and understanding of laws and personal safety. The S.R.O. provides a positive image of law enforcement in an effort to help young people make constructive choices in their lives. The S.R.O.'s primary duty is to protect the school's safe environment and to maintain an atmosphere where students, teachers and staff feel safe enough to learn.
- SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS (SUPERINTENDENT)
- The chief executive officer of a school district.
- ULSTER COUNTY CHARTER AND GOVERNMENT (ULSTER COUNTY)
- The government of Ulster County as defined by Article I of Chapter C. Except as outlined herein, no function, agreement, duty or power of any city, town, or village, is or shall be transferred, altered, or impaired by this article.
- ULSTER COUNTY LEGISLATURE (LEGISLATURE)
- Pursuant to Article II, § C-11 of the Ulster County Charter, the appropriating and policy-determining body of the County and, as such, shall have and exercise all powers and duties now or hereafter conferred upon it by applicable law and any and all powers necessarily implied or incidental thereto, and all the powers assigned to it by the Ulster County Charter and restricted as therein provided. Further, § C-11O of the Ulster County Charter authorizes the Legislature to approve the execution of all contracts in excess of $50,000 entered into by the County and Section A2-6A(3) of the Ulster County Administrative Code provides that the Chairman of the Ulster County Legislature can, upon approval of the County Legislature, enter into an intermunicipal shared services agreement (ISSA) on behalf of the County of Ulster.
- ULSTER COUNTY MENTAL HEALTH DEPARTMENT (UCMHD)
- Pursuant to Article VI of the Ulster County Charter, the local government agency responsible for planning, funding and monitoring of community mental health, mental retardation/developmental disability and alcohol and substance abuse services in Ulster County.
- ULSTER COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICTS (SCHOOLS)
- All public schools within Ulster County, as defined by the New York State Education Department.
- ULSTER COUNTY SHERIFF (SHERIFF)
- Pursuant to Article XX of the Ulster County Charter, the chief law enforcement official in Ulster County. The Sheriff is responsible for protecting life and property, preventing crime, solving problems and fostering good will through courtesy and professionalism.
This article shall be implemented and administered in the following manner:
The Commissioner of the Ulster County Mental Health Department, in consultation with the Community Services Board, shall be authorized and directed to perform the following actions:
Conduct a needs assessment every three years of mental health services in Ulster County School Districts and report its findings to the Legislature.
Provide assistance to Ulster County School Districts and BOCES based upon the findings of the needs assessment.
Procure intermunicipal shared services agreements on behalf of the County.
Report the program's efficacy to the County Legislature on an annual basis.
The Commissioner of the Mental Health Department, in consultation with the Legislature's committee assigned to oversee health matters, is hereby authorized to develop procedures necessary to implement this article.
In furtherance of this article, School Districts should offer students counseling, conflict mediation and resiliency building, alternatives to violence and gangs, attendance monitoring, community referral and liaison work, school dropout reduction, suicide prevention, crisis intervention, child and family advocacy, peer mediation and intervention programs, anti-bullying, and eating disorders awareness and prevention programs.
Schools may consult with the Ulster County Sheriff to safely provide security, including the possibility of placement of School Resource Officers, for those in educational settings.