School Administrators: Principal, Vice Principal, Special Education Director
School administrators have the very important job of making sure that the staff is familiar with FASD. Whether or not FASD students have been identified, they are being taught in our schools. Educators who recognize this invisible handicap can make a life-long differences in these students’ lives. The staff must be informed about the nature of FASD, and they should should be given the educational tools to help these students perform to the best of their ability.
The school administrator should make certain that a Student Study Team (SST) model is in place at the school. This is an opportunity for the classroom teacher and other educational professionals to discuss their concerns about a student. The Student Study Team is a vehicle for identified students to be referred for a medical evaluation or a psychoeducational evaluation if they are considered at “risk.” While teachers are not qualified to diagnose a student, they can identify those students of concern. An early diagnosis is the single most contributing factor to positive success for an FASD student.
The principal or vice principal usually officiates at the SST. She/he is also an important member of the IEP, offering insight into how the student handles himself and interacts with others on campus.
Finally, it is important for the administrator in charge of school discipline to understand the FASD student’s motivation behind any misconduct. Typically, the FASD student is not willfully misbehaving. Rather, he/she has difficulty understanding verbal directions and has difficulty interpreting social cues form peers and authority figures. School administrators responsible for student discipline should understand that the punishment appropriate for willful misbehavior is not appropriate for FASD students who have limited social judgment abilities.