The Student Assistance Counselor (SAC) maintains an important and effective place in the public schools. The SAC is uniquely positioned to provide both individual and school-wide services that directly impact on classroom instruction, behavior management, student safety, family support, and community relations.
Direct services include individual student assessment, counseling and referral, and student-specific input and collaboration with other faculty during Intervention and Referral Services, Child Study Team and "504" meetings, as well as individual case conferencing with teachers, parents, guidance counselors, child study team members, and administrators.
School-wide services include development and adherence of policies (and facilitation of in-service trainings) on state-mandated topics (substance abuse, suicide, physical/sexual abuse, and sexual harassment policies). The SAC is equipped to develop and implement school crisis response plans in the event of catastrophic emotional events that could impact on multiple students. The SAC acts as a liaison with community agencies as a regular participant in Municipal Alliance meetings and on-going communication with local law enforcement officials.
The New Jersey Administrative Code (§18A:40) requires policies for suspicion of substance use among students. This policy is predicated on a knowledgeable staff—both in terms of familiarity with common drugs of abuse and their related symptoms, as well as response procedures. The SAC is specifically trained in all mandated subcomponents of these statutes, including staff training on current trends, signs and symptoms of abuse, knowledge of local and community organizations that are available for the prevention, early intervention, treatment and rehabilitation of individuals who show symptoms of substance abuse, legal guidelines for the implementation of substance abuse policies, and the ability to interview students suspected of abuse in order to assess a student's current level of drug/alcohol involvement.