Keyword for this page: student services


The mission statement of the Polk County Public Schools Student Services Department is to support youth, families, and school board employees by enhancing mental and physical health resulting in optimal student achievement and personal success for all.


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About Student Services

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Research studies emphasize the importance of student services relative to student achievement. For example:

  • Students who receive social-emotional support and prevention services achieve better in school (Greenberg, et. al., 2003; Welsh, et. al., 2001; Zins et. al., 2004).
  • Students who are emotionally, physically, and socially healthy are better learners and will be primed to compete for good jobs in a global labor market (National Middle School Association, 2003).
  • Expanded school mental health services in elementary schools have been found to reduce special education referrals; improve aspects of the school climate (Bruns et. al., 2004); and produce declines in disciplinary referrals, suspensions, grade retention, and special education referrals and placement among at-risk students (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2005).
  • Nearly 200 studies on the effect of exercise on cognitive functioning suggest that physical activity supports learning.

The Student Services Department has adapted the coordinated school health model from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide programs and services to Polk County’s 92,000 K-12 students and their families. This model impacts students’ overall well being and ability to learn. Components of the model include: counseling, psychological, and social services; health services; healthy school climate (i.e., safe & drug free schools, violence prevention, school attendance); comprehensive school health education; nutrition education; health promotion for staff and students; and parent/family and community partnerships in school health.
Based on careful analysis of student needs, evidenced-based programs and services are implemented, monitored, and evaluated in an effort to increase student achievement. Many of the programs and services offered are federal, state, and/or local mandates.

The Student Services Department provides effective, centralized leadership which results in consistent interpretation of policies and procedures, thereby limiting liability, assuring equity of services, and utilizing resources and personnel efficiently.

Below is a brief description of the many programs and services provided by the Polk County Student Services Department.

Attendance Services

Student attendance is continually monitored to ensure statutory compliance for compulsory attendance. Ongoing communication/collaboration is required with community agencies, school-based Attendance Problem Solving Team members, law enforcement officers, and court personnel. School social workers aid school personnel, parents, and community agency staff in the provision of services to support student attendance.

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Crisis Intervention Team

The Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) is a multidisciplinary Student Services Team which consists of guidance counselors, school psychologists, prevention educators, and social workers. The CIT is organized by areas with regional teams, each with a team leader. The CIT has goals of prevention, intervention, and postvention. The team uses a crisis model adapted from the National Organization of Victim Assistance and the PrePare model of the National Association of School Psychologists.

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Guidance Services

School-based Guidance Counselors and College/Career Specialists are now supported through the Teaching and Learning Services Division.

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Health and Character Education

The Health and Character Education area coordinates the Comprehensive Health Curriculum K-12 in all Polk County schools and documents compliance with state and district mandates.

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Health Services

Registered Nurses provide services and information in the following areas: entrance and immunization requirements, communicable diseases, Bloodborne Pathogens, head lice, health clinic aides/health contacts in schools, school nurse information, CPR and First Aid training for School Board Employees, medication administration, emergency calls (911), and other state mandated school health programs and requirements.

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Home Education Program

The Acting Director of Polk Virtual serves as the district contact for all aspects of the Home Education Program, including inquiries and requests for part-time enrollment, dual enrollment, virtual school, Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) information, and Exceptional Student Education (ESE). Other responsibilities include maintaining records and monitoring student progress for current Home Education students. The district’s home education packet is updated and distributed in both paper and electronic formats.

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Juvenile Justice

The Senior Manager of Social Work Services serves as the district contact for all Juvenile Justice related issues. Criminal prosecution notices for students who have committed felonies are distributed to personnel on a "need to know" basis. Orders of Restitution are filed, tracked, and forwarded to the Polk County Public Schools Legal Office for collection.

Multi-tiered System of Supports: MTSS

Meaningful family engagement is important for student success, and is required by both the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). It is vital that parents are engaged as team members.

View the Parent Resource Guide for more information.

Psychological Services

Psychological Services staff members include school psychologists, intern school psychologists, and clerical support staff. School psychologists provide a wide range of comprehensive services within all Polk County Public Schools.

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Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention

Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention services including:

  • Violence Prevention and Conflict Resolution Training
  • Phoenix Program for first-time drug-related Code of Conduct offenses.
  • Voluntary Substance Abuse Assessments
  • Media Library of prevention resources and materials

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Social Work Services

School social workers in Polk County Public Schools provide services in the areas of student attendance and truancy, data collection for Exceptional Student Education (ESE) referrals and placement (e.g., social histories and adaptive behavior information), address verification, and related services including home/school liaison, counseling, crisis intervention, parent training, teacher consultation, and developing interventions for students at risk for school failure.

Teen Parent Program

The Teen Parent Program is designed to meet the needs of pregnant or parenting students and their children. This voluntary program is designed to provide participating students educational and ancillary services to facilitate the completion of high school.

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Additional Student Services Responsibilities

Department of Children and Families (DCF)

Student Services Department personnel serve as the district contacts and work closely with DCF to ensure interagency collaboration for students who are known to the DCF. An interagency agreement is in place and updated annually to facilitate this exchange of student information.

Missing Children

Student Services Department personnel receive notices from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement regarding missing children. In accordance with Florida Statutes, local law enforcement personnel are notified immediately when identified missing children are in attendance at any Polk County school.

Professional Educator Competency (PEC), Practicum, & Internship Programs

Student Services personnel, in conjunction with the Florida Department of Education, have developed the Student Services Clinical Educator Training component to provide oversight and supervision for all new developing student service personnel entering the Polk County Public Schools. Interns, practicum students, and PEC program participants are supervised, monitored, and evaluated to insure quality services for students and their families.

Student Records

General Student Records – Student Services personnel are responsible for updating the student records section of the Student Progression Plan and serve as a resource to school personnel regarding student record issues.

Work Waivers

Federal child labor laws and Florida Statutes require that all students under the age of 18 who are employed must have a work waiver issued consistent with legal requirements. Student Services personnel issue these work waivers to Polk County Public Schools students employed on a part time basis.

Work Waiver requests for Polk County Public Schools students may be accepted via e-mail through school guidance counselors. If you need a work waiver contact your school guidance counselor.

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