HED: Behavioral assistant OK’d by Lee County School Board

AUTHOR: PULLEN

HED: Behavioral assistant OK’d by Lee County School Board

By Sandi Pullen

Daily Journal

The Lee County School Board approved funding Tuesday for a second psychology intern to help teachers work with students with behavioral problems.

The graduate-level assistantship through the Mississippi State University department of counselor education and educational psychology will cost the district about $10,000, said Pat Beane, special education director for the Lee County School District.

Lee County schools currently have one psychology intern, paid for through state funding, but behavior problems are getting to a point where additional help is needed, especially in elementary school, Beane said.

“It’s becoming a real problem,” said Saltillo Elementary School principal Ben McClung. “I never realized it would be this deep of a problem at such an early age. … We don’t have a lot available for kids that young.”

Space in the special education day treatment classes for elementary students is extremely limited and typically reserved for the worse cases, Beane said.

“It’s a different population of students we’re dealing with,” said Beane. “They’re immune to spanking. You’ve just got to find what works for those kids. We’ve got to do something to help out.”

One of the worse cases, Beane said, is a kindergarten student who threatened adults, destroyed school property including ceiling tiles, desks and books, talked about drugs and constantly disrupted class.

“Someone had to be with him all the time,” Beane said.

The psychology intern will work with teachers and each school’s teacher support team to observe and assess the behavior problems, develop behavior modification plans and follow up on the students’ progress, Beane said.

Eventually, the district would need a full-time behaviorist, said Board president Roy Burleson, but the assistantship would provide a cheaper, “Band-Aid” solution.

“It’s not just in Lee County,” Beane said. “It’s nationwide.”

Michaela Gibson Morris contributed to this report.