Athens City Schools School Counseling and Mental Health Services Opt-In Annual Notification
Athens City Schools offers a variety of student counseling and mental health services for your child. According to Alabama Ala. Act. #2022-44, parents and/or guardians of all children under 14 years of age must “opt-in” annually for their children to participate in school-provided or sponsored Counseling and/or Mental Health Services. These are not new services, only a new form that needs to be completed if you wish for your students to be able to participate in services such as:
- Large group guidance - includes school counselor, mental health specialist, or professional visiting the classroom to discuss topics such as bullying, class scheduling, stress management, test anxiety or guest speakers to discuss good choices, substance abuse prevention, etc.
- Small group guidance - includes a small group of students with school counselor, mental health specialist or professional to discuss topics such as test anxiety, grief, healthy coping skills, etc.
- Mentoring - Counselors, Peer Helpers or partner organizations work with students in school on topics such as friendships, healthy relationships, anger management, and anxiety.
- Assessments or Surveys - includes questionnaires provided to students related to social behaviors, feelings, etc.
- Crisis intervention - short-term, immediate assistance by school counselor, mental health specialist, or professional for a specific situation.
- School-Based Mental Health - On-going counseling/mental health services by school professionals or private practitioners in the school setting.
Information for Parents/Legal Guardians
If a student’s parent or legal guardian elects to opt-in to services, the professional providing services shall keep the parent informed. The student’s parent or legal guardian shall have the final authority to make decisions regarding any such recommendation a school professional may make for a student to receive counseling or treatment beyond that of which the parent or legal guardian has already opted in.
Review of Materials
You may request to review any materials used in the guidance and counseling programs available to students by contacting the student’s principal.
Information Regarding How to Allow, Limit, or Prevent Your Child’s Participation in Services
Under Alabama law, no student under the age of fourteen may participate in ongoing school counseling services including, but not limited to, mental health services, unless (1) the student’s parent or legal guardian has submitted a written opt-in granting permission for the student to participate or (2) there is an imminent threat to the health of the student or others. Therefore, if your child is under fourteen, they will only be allowed to participate in the aforementioned services if you opt-in. If you would like the school system to be able to offer and/or provide services to your child, ages 14 or younger, you must opt-in for each individual service listed for them to participate in that service. A parent or guardian may rescind permission for a student to participate in services at any time, by providing written notice to their child’s school administration, school counselor, or mental health specialist. Even if you do not opt-in to mental health services, your child may be provided mental health services if there is an imminent threat to their health or others. School employees may determine in their discretion whether such an imminent threat exists and provide any mental health services they deem necessary under the circumstances.
Records pertaining to a student’s mental health will be kept separately from academic records unless including such record(s) in the student’s academic record is necessary to implement a state and/or federal law (e.g. special education referral process).
Parents of students with disabilities: Please note that the opt-in process is not applicable to any school counseling services or “mental health services” contained in a student’s IEP or Section 504 plan. Consent for those services will be obtained and information regarding your child’s mental health services will be provided through the usual special education process.
Click below to select your school(s) to complete the annual School Counseling and Mental Health Services Opt-In Form.
- FAME Academy at Brookhill Elementary
- HEART Academy at Julian Newman Elementary
- iAcademy at Athens Elementary
- SPARK Academy at Cowart Elementary
- Athens High School
- Athens Intermediate School
- Athens Middle School
- Athens Renaissance School