District Officials to Improve Mental Health Services in Fair Lawn Schools


FAIR LAWN - It was a move that brought a tear to the eye of a mother with a special needs son.

On Aug. 21, the Fair Lawn Board of Education approved a professional services agreement with CarePlus NJ to provide specialized therapeutic mental health services to certain district pupils for the upcoming academic year.

According to the resolution, the district will pay $392,000 for four, full-time therapists who will provide 40 weeks of behavioral health care and support services.

Sign Up for E-News

“We’ve moved from the traditional use of administrators and guidance counselors to supports kids to bring in mental health professionals,” said Interim Superintendent Ernest Palestis. “That is something that I think Fair Lawn will be proud of next year… and into the future.”

Under the contract, mental health professionals, including psychologists and psychiatrists, will work with the schools’ guidance counselors, administrators and teachers to identify students through a referral process to meet student needs in their home school.

The goal, said Palestis, is to reduce the number of students referred to outside agencies for mental health issues. According to a handout distributed to attendees, the goal of the initiative is “to increase the number of individual, group and family counseling sessions for students identified by the school district with mental health concerns by 10 percent as compared to the 2016-17 school year.”

School psychologists, counselors and clinicians will conduct counseling sessions and give feedback to the students’ teachers.

Teachers will be trained to recognize what Assistant Superintendent of Student Services Nick Norcia called “triggers” of possible mental health issues in students, including dipping grades and lateness, things, he said, “we take for granted every day and could be a sign of something bigger.”

“This is the ultimate way to protect kids,” said Palestis. “We need students in the building who feel confident about themselves who have good self-esteem, who know it’s OK to look to another adult for help.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Fair Lawn/Glen Rock

Fair Lawn Police Blotter - March 13, 2018

March 13, 2018

March 5

1:16 pm - Narcotics:  P.O. Chris Sullivan & P.O. Luke Hintzen responded to the parking lot next to United Check Cashing, 24-00 Broadway, on a report of an unconscious male in a parked vehicle and arrested Christopher Artinger, age 29 of Oakland, after heroin was located inside the vehicle once he was awakened. He was released after being charged with possession of a controlled ...

Health Alert: Child with Measles Traveled to Newark Airport on March 12

March 15, 2018

TRENTON, NJ — If you were at Newark Liberty International Airport on Monday, March 12 between 12:45 and 9 p.m., you may have been exposed to measles and should contact your health care provider

The N.J. Department of Health has issued a public health alert after a child with a confirmed case of measles — a highly contagious disease — arrived in Terminal B at Newark Liberty ...

Hasbrouck Heights' Coach Gabriele -- A Coach for All Seasons

HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ - The full-time start of baseball season will have to wait one more week for Hasbrouck Heights baseball coach Pat Gabriele. Gabriele, in his second year as head coach of the Aviators after replacing Rocky Minichiello a season ago, will be spending the weekend in Salem, Virginia, on the bench of the Ramapo College men’s basketball team.

Ramapo advanced to ...

2018 County Budget Introduced With No Tax Increase

March 17, 2018

Hackensack, NJ – The 2018 Bergen County budget proposal includes no tax increase, good news for Fair Lawn and Glen Rock, both of which may see hefty hikes in school taxes.

Fair Lawn's 2018 municipal budget had a zero percent increase and Glen Rock is scheduled to introduce its 2018 municipal budget in two weeks.

Property tax bills are in three parts, ...