In the last issue I presented a document that schools could use to properly address the needs of students that have missed school days because of being in a hospital, mental health treatment center, substance abuse treatment or other care.
When students are absent from school and they receive healthcare, particularly mental healthcare and the school has no communication this is a potentially dangerous situation for that student and for the entire school.
We can understand when parents forget to provide communication to the student’s school because of the trauma of the circumstances. These traumatic circumstances don’t occur in a family’s life frequently. But, no such understanding can be granted to treatment facilities or hospitals when it is their duty to care for whatever trauma the student suffers from. Further, all these care facilities are mandated by their accreditation to provide such communication to the school. Still, an executed Release of Information Form needs to be filled out to give permission for the treatment facility to share information with the student’s school. But, schools, I caution you that not having a Release of Information Form should not be an excuse to allow the student back into school without knowing the full nature of the student’s condition and their needs for the future.
Hospitals and treatment centers are obligated to formulate a thorough set of recommendations for the needs of the student after they leave the treatment facility. These are often called: Discharge Summary, Discharge Plan, Discharge Report, After-Care Plan, Home Care Action Plan, etc. The treatment person in charge of the student’s care should complete these recommendations. The parents and the student are given these reports upon discharge from the facility and they are supposed to be reviewed together before leaving. A frequent problem is that these reports are scribbled, incomplete, not reviewed or otherwise a sham. Please do not accept incomplete, illegible communications. It was for this reason that I suggested the seven straightforward pieces of information that the school should insist upon before that student retakes their seat in the classroom.
I would ultimately make the parents responsible for getting you this information or if the treatment center has been one of those rare facilities that have established a close communication with you, I would give your form directly to them. Just remember, even though that contact person from the facility has been friendly and communicative, this doesn’t insure that you (school) will get the discharge information you need to continue to safely educate this student. Use the form I suggested in every circumstance.