Randolph Academy Union Free School District Wins National Award for Supporting Students with Emotional and Behavioral Needs

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District is one of six winners of PresenceLearning’s annual Award of Excellence recognizing outstanding leadership and student progress in special education

PresenceLearning

Students have developed a real affinity for the online format and it really helps meet students’ needs in an efficient way.

PresenceLearning, the leading telehealth network of live, online special education related services providers, recently named Randolph Academy Union Free School District (Randolph Academy) in Randolph, NY as a winner of its 3rd annual Award of Excellence. The awards program recognized six educational organizations from across the country for their leadership, teamwork, and outstanding progress in helping students with special needs succeed. Randolph Academy is currently partners with PresenceLearning to provide access to highly qualified mental health professionals and speech-language pathologists via its online therapy solution in order to help students meet the goals outlined in their Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).    

Randolph Academy is a Special Act school serving students who need a small-school setting and more support services because of emotional and behavioral needs. Its two campuses in Hamburg and Randolph serve approximately 200 students in grades K-12, almost all of whom have IEPs mandating related services like counseling. In addition to helping students meet their IEP goals, the district’s 11 counselors often need to provide crisis counseling at a moment’s notice for students in need.

“If a student is having a rough day, our counselors’ first priority is to provide on-the-spot support, meaning they sometimes have to cancel regularly scheduled sessions with other students,” said Lori DeCarlo, superintendent of Randolph Academy. “That was frustrating for our students so we turned to PresenceLearning for online behavioral and mental health services to provide regular skill development sessions, which freed-up our on-site counselors for crisis counseling when needed.”

Since starting online behavioral and mental health services during the 2015-16 school year, the approximately 20 students using PresenceLearning have made progress on, or even achieved, their IEP goals. Last year, two students met their IEP goals and were able to return to their home school district, which is the ultimate goal for Randolph Academy. Other success factors DeCarlo and the on-site counselors have witnessed are student behavior and improved decision making.

“I dismissed online therapy because I didn’t think our students would engage in pre-recorded, canned sessions,” said DeCarlo. “It wasn’t until I realized this was a living, breathing mental health professional conducting live sessions with students via videoconferencing that I had my ‘a-ha’ moment. It’s been amazing to see. Students have developed a real affinity for the online format and it really helps meet students’ needs in an efficient way.”

The six Award of Excellence winners, including Randolph Academy, were selected based on positive student progress and engagement indicators, strong organizational leadership, informed parental support, and the onsite team’s collaboration with PresenceLearning’s online clinicians during the 2015-2016 school year.

“Among the thousands of students we serve, those who make the best progress tend to be in educational organizations with courageous leadership and a committed and collaborative approach to working with our online clinicians. Randolph Academy is a shining example of this,” said Clay Whitehead, co-Founder and co-CEO of PresenceLearning. “Each of this year’s winners, including Randolph Academy, overcame serious challenges in serving their students with special needs by fully leveraging the potential of our online therapy network. Through their hard work, these schools have given their students access to the life-changing care they need to unlock their full potential.”

About PresenceLearning
PresenceLearning (http://www.presencelearning.com) is the leading telehealth network of providers of clinical services and assessments to educational organizations. The PresenceLearning care network has provided over one million sessions of live, online speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, behavioral interventions and mental health services, diagnostic services and assessments, and early childhood services for children with special needs.

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Kati Elliott
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