Belle Fourche School Counseling Program

The Belle Fourche School District's Mental Health & Wellness website is designed to provide a wide variety of educational and community resources available to students, staff, and the community to support positive change, reduce stigma and develop the capacity of all stakeholders to engage in wellness.

What is Mental and Psychological Health?

The Belle Fourche School District is committed to promoting psychological health and well-being. Psychological health affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we manage stress, relate to others, and make everyday choices. Social and emotional well-being is essential at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. Proper psychological health involves a person's normal emotional, behavioral, and social maturity. This means such a person is in a healthy state of mental well-being, which they can use to function normally in society and during everyday events.

Psychological health is a spectrum. In the same way that every individual experiences physical health as a continuum from 'well' to 'ill,' every individual has a mental health experience. As with physical health, mental health changes at different points in individuals' lives based on biological and environmental factors. Nevertheless, many young people enjoy mental wellness, meaning that they have positive regard for themselves, want positive relationships with the people important to them, and are resilient when faced with challenges in their lives at home and school.

Coping with mental health concerns negatively impacts young people's ability to meet the many demands of school, including cognitive demands for learning; social and emotional needs for making friends and behaving according to school rules, norms, and expectations; and physical demands for being active throughout the school day. A state of mental, emotional, and psychological health can impact perceptions, choices, and actions that have a significant impact on overall wellness and daily functioning, including academic performance. Mental health conditions include depression, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance use disorders.  Mental health can be impacted by the home and social environment, early childhood adversity or trauma, physical health, and genes.

Meet Our School Counseling Department Staff

 The goal of the Belle Fourche School Counseling Program is to work collaboratively with administrators, teachers, parents, and partners to aid in the development of academic, career, and social/emotional growth of each student while promoting lifelong learning experiences. The primary purpose of the following information is to protect the health and well-being of all students.

 Mr. Jeff Caldwell, (605) 723-3350 Ext. 4421

My name is Jeff Caldwell, and I have served in the Belle Fourche School District since 2000. I graduated from South Dakota State University with my undergraduate and graduate degrees. Before being a school counselor, I was a Homebased Therapist at Behavioral Management Systems. I am married to my wife, Mistie Caldwell, and we have two daughters, Phoebe and Sophie. In my spare time, I like to coach fast-pitch softball. I have coached fastpitch softball for 17 years ranging from traveling youth softball, High School softball, and coaching at Black Hills State University.


Ms. Amy La Qua, (605) 723-3367 Ext. 1211

I was born and raised in South Dakota but spent most of my upbringing in East River. I graduated from Washington High School in Sioux Falls, SD, and immediately went to college. I received my Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Psychology with a focus on behavioral health. Before joining the Belle Fourche School counseling team, I worked in the SD Department of Corrections, providing cognitive and behavioral therapy to delinquent teenage girls until I graduated with my Master’s degree. I then started working for Behavior Management Systems in Spearfish, SD, as a Family Pathways Therapist providing services to Meade County in South Dakota. Through my position with Behavior Management Systems, I provided individual and family therapy to children who struggled with different mental health issues. I partnered with schools to help provide interventions during the school day and worked with children and their families to create healthy relationships and structures in their homes. I accepted the Belle Fourche Middle School Counselor position in July of 2021 and have enjoyed working in the Belle Fourche School District. I look forward to providing students with opportunities to learn skills to help them increase their social and emotional learning and apply different skills to be successful.

Ms. Alia Brennan (605) 723- 3382 ext. 3223

My name is Alia Brennan, and I am your K-4 school counselor! I was born and raised in Chadron, Nebraska. I attended Chadron State College and received my Bachelor of Arts degree in May of 2017 while playing 4 years of collegiate volleyball for the Eagles. I then enrolled in the master’s programs at Chadron State College in the Fall of 2017, and in December of 2019 I graduated with my Master of Arts in Education for school counseling. After taking a year to work from home, I decided to set my sights on entering my degree field. I have always been in awe of the Black Hills and all the recreational activities that they offer, which prompted me to move my job search to this area. I am so truly fortunate to have begun my professional career in a small town and school district with employees that are so gracious, and I love the ability to get to know the student population on a first-name basis.

Our young people spend a large amount of time in schools; therefore, there should be spaces where they feel safe to foster the best learning environment. This was the motivation that I found behind becoming a school counselor that combined my passion for mental health and education.

Dr. Mark J. Britzman (605) 723-3350 Ext. 4415

My name is Mark Britzman, and I have worked as a licensed psychologist and clinical mental health professional for more than thirty-two years.  I previously achieved a tenured professorship in graduate-level counselor education at South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD. I enjoy speaking and writing, and as a result, I have authored five books and presented numerous seminars and workshops throughout the United States and beyond in character education, ethics in the workplace, and psychological well-being. I was honored to be chosen as an International William Glasser Scholar.  I received advanced training and five certifications in Choice Theory/Reality Therapy to continue to be a lifelong learner and a skilled counselor. My proudest professional accomplishment was receiving the South Dakota Counseling Association’s highest award for service.

Brian Aspen

My name is Brian Aspen and I have been the school social worker and family liaison for the Belle Fourche School District. My role is to help our school district to enhance the district's ability to meet its academic mission, especially where home, school, and community collaboration is the key to achieving student success. ​

School District Mission Statement

We, the members of the Belle Fourche community, are committed to building a learning community and ensuring all learners have equal access to an excellent education program that results in learners who are responsible and accountable; who value lifelong learning and know-how to learn; and who can succeed in a changing society.

District Goal Statements

  1. Build a quality educational program that is efficient, effective, and excellent.

  2. Improve and develop a cooperative and positive image for the school system.

  3. Provide financial resources to fund the educational programs.

  4. Conduct school district business in a professional, effective efficient, and responsible manner.


When someone experiences emotional difficulty, it may affect their general daily functioning. For students, this is often evident in academics. Frequently school-related problems may be symptomatic of those troubles. School-based counselors can assist families in connecting to community mental health resources.

Student’s Right to Privacy and Confidentiality

A student's right to privacy and confidentiality is the basis for an effective counseling relationship. Confidentiality ensures that school counselors won't share students' disclosures with others except when the student authorizes it or when there is a clear and present danger to the student and to other persons.

A school counselor in a counseling relationship with a student has an ethical and legal obligation to keep the information contained within that relationship. Confidentiality is the ethical and legal term ascribed to the information communicated within the counseling relationship, and it must be maintained unless keeping that confidential information leads to foreseeable harm. “Serious and foreseeable harm is different for each minor in the school setting and is determined by students’ developmental and chronological age, the setting, parental rights, and the nature of the harm.”

Exceptions to confidentiality exist, and students should be informed when situations arise. School counselors have a responsibility to disclose information obtained in counseling relationships with others to protect students, themselves, or other individuals. Privileged communication between a school counselor and a student is a legal term granting protection to information shared in a counseling relationship only if said privilege is granted by federal or state statute. If privilege applies, it can provide additional safeguards to confidential information.

School Counselors

Counseling and guidance programs have undergone an evolution over several decades and are critical to helping prepare students to meet future challenges. The Belle Fourche School District school counselors promote academic, college, and career readiness and social/emotional development for all students.

Classroom Guidance Lessons: Helps students understand themselves and others. School counselors help students develop peer relationships, adequate social, decision-making, study skills, effective communications, conflict resolution, coping strategies, and more through classroom guidance.

Individual Student Planning: Helps students set goals, establish academic and career plans, understand their strengths and weaknesses, and prepare for the transition to the next stage of their life.

Responsive Services: Assists students with needs such as adjusting to a new school, coping with grief following a crisis, and dealing with substance abuse or other risky behaviors. These services are provided through individual and small group counseling, peer facilitation and consultation, and referrals to professionals trained in mental health, welfare, and other specialties.

System Support: Enhances school climate and relationships among school community members: school Counselors coordinate parent outreach services, community support services, and other faculty and staff consultations.

Career Counseling: Several factors influence your career development, including your interests, abilities, values, personality, background, and circumstances. Career Counseling is a process that will help you know and understand yourself and the world of work to make career, educational, and life decisions. School counselors deliver programs that impact student growth in three domain areas: career development, academic development, and social/emotional development.

School counselors recognize that students should demonstrate growth in these domains equally to succeed. School counselors understand that these domains are not considered separate but are intertwined, affecting the other. Although this statement focuses on career development, it is understood that academic growth and social/emotional development need to be considered equally.

Career development is more than just deciding on a major and what job you want to get when graduating from high school.  Rather, it is a lifelong process, meaning that throughout your life, you will change, situations will change, and you will continually have to make career and life decisions.

The goal of Career Counseling is to help you make the decisions you need to make now and give you the knowledge and skills you need to make future career and life decisions.

The School Counselor's RoleSchool counselors play a critical role in students’ career development by Introducing careers and the world of work beginning in lower elementary grades and providing opportunities to engage students in life roles including learner and worker.

Providing learning and experiential opportunities for students to acquire behaviors and skills for career readiness.  The primary focus of career counseling is as follows:

*Working with students to identify their interests, abilities, specific career clusters, and postsecondary plans (many states mandate an academic/career action plan as a graduation requirement

*Helping students understand the connection between school and the world of work

 *Helping students plan the transition from school to postsecondary education and the world of work

*Advising students on multiple postsecondary pathways (e.g., college, career-specific credentials, and certifications, apprenticeships, military, service-year programs, full-time employment with a family-supporting wage).

*Connecting students to early college programs (e.g., dual credit/dual enrollment).

*Collaborating with administration, teachers, staff, and decision-makers to create a postsecondary-readiness and college-going culture

Providing and advocating for individual pre-K through postsecondary students’ college and career awareness through exploration and postsecondary planning and decision making, which supports students’ right to choose from the vast array of options after completing secondary education

Providing opportunities for all students to develop the mindsets and behaviors necessary to learn work-related skills, resilience, perseverance, an understanding of lifelong learning as a part of long-term career success, a positive attitude toward learning, and a strong work ethic.  Recognizing and supporting essential developmental factors key to future successes, such as self-efficacy and identity, motivation, and perseverance.

School Social Workers

School social workers bring unique knowledge and skills to the school system and the student services team. School Social Workers can assist with mental health concerns, behavioral concerns, positive behavioral support, academic, and classroom support, consultation with teachers, parents, and administrators as well as provide individual and group counseling/therapy.  School social workers are instrumental in furthering the mission of the schools which is to provide a setting for teaching, learning, and for the attainment of competence and confidence. School social workers are often called on to help students, families, and teachers address problems such as truancy, social withdrawal, overaggressive behaviors, rebelliousness, and the effects of special physical, emotional, or economic problems including neglect and abuse.

School-Based Mental Health Counselors, Clinical Psychologists, and Referrals

When a student experiences emotional difficulty that limits the student's ability to participate in the education process, the student may benefit from counseling to overcome the problem. Counseling typically requires that the student discuss their feelings and follow a train of thought to make connections regarding coping strategies. When a student is not making progress expected from school-level counseling or the student's difficulty is beyond what is typically provided by school-level counselors, the student may be referred for counseling by a district mental health counselor. Referrals verify that less intensive counseling services have been exhausted or would be inappropriate. The district mental health counselor collaborates on an "as needed" basis with the student's support network (school, home, community). When the student has made sufficient and consistent progress, the more intensive support is faded back to the school level. If you have already spoken to your child's school and have further questions about school-based mental health counseling, please contact your student's school counselor.

School Psychologists

School psychologists are uniquely qualified members of school teams that support students' ability to learn and teachers' ability to teach. They apply expertise in mental health, learning, and behavior, to help children and youth succeed academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally. In addition, school psychologists partner with families, teachers, school administrators, and other professionals to create safe, healthy, and supportive learning environments that strengthen connections between home, school, and the community.

School psychologists provide direct support and interventions to students, consult with teachers, families, and other school-employed mental health professionals (i.e., school counselors, school social workers) to improve support strategies, work with school administrators to improve school-wide practices and policies, and collaborate with community providers to coordinate needed services. They help schools successfully:

*Improve Academic Achievement

*Promote Positive Behavior and Mental Health

*Support Diverse Learners

*Strengthen Family-School Partnerships

*Improve School-Wide Assessment and Accountability

*Monitor Individual Student Progress in Academics and Behavior

Facts About Mental Health

*Mental health affects everyone regardless of culture, race, ethnicity, or gender

*Forty-four million adults experience mental health illness each year

*One in five children ages 13 – 18 have or will have a severe mental health illness

*Things Parents can do When Concerned About Mental Health

*Talk with your child's pediatrician

*Get a referral to a mental health professional

*Learn more about mental health disorders

*Work with the school

*Connect with other individuals and families

Belle Fourche, SD Community Resources

*Belle Fourche Counseling, LLC, 515 National St #103, Belle Fourche, SD 57717 / Phone: (605) 722-8090

*Black Hills Psychology, 115 N 7th St #6, Spearfish, SD 57783 / Phone: (605) 645-0100

*Behavior Management Systems, 623 Dahl Rd, Spearfish, SD 57783 / Phone: (605) 642-2777

*Spearfish Counseling Services, Address: 1320 North Ave, Spearfish, SD 57783 / Phone: (605) 644-7494

*Monument Health Behavioral Health Center, Address: 915 Mountain View Rd, Rapid City, SD 57702

Phone: (605) 755-7200

*MANLOVE PSYCHIATRIC GROUP, P.C., 636 Saint Anne St., Rapid City, SD  57701-4694 / Phone: (605) 348-8000

Physical and Mental Health Correlation

Registered, professional school nurses serve a vital role in promoting positive mental health outcomes in students. Positive mental health is as critical to academic success as physical well-being. As members of interdisciplinary teams, school nurses collaborate with school personnel, community healthcare professionals, students, and families in the assessment, identification, intervention, referral, and follow-up of children in need of mental health services. Because of their regular access to students, school nurses are uniquely qualified to identify students with potential mental health concerns.

Schools and school nurses have an essential role in addressing mental health concerns, promoting mental health wellness and social-emotional competencies, enhancing protective factors, and referring to and collaborating with mental health providers.

School nurses are uniquely positioned to play an active role in mental wellness promotion and early intervention programs. The CDC notes that schools are among the most efficient systems for reaching children and youth to provide health services and programs. School nurses are educated to identify somatic complaints and co-occurring behavioral health concerns. Thus, school nurses are often a student’s first point of entry into mental health services. School nurses are also part of the regular school experience and are easily accessible to students seeking assistance with mental health issues.

As integral members of school mental health service teams, school nurses are familiar with and educated to recognize warning signs such as changes in school performance, mood changes, complaints of illness before or during the school day, problems at home, and self-harm.

School nurses promote student success by implementing Section 504 plans and the health-related areas of the Special Education Individual Education Program (IEP). With these plans in place, the school nurse can assist students in re-entry into the school environment following homebound instruction or hospitalization.

Telehealth Counseling

Telehealth is the use of digital information and communication technologies, such as computers and mobile devices, to access counseling and health care services remotely and manage your health care. These may be technologies you use from home or that your counselor or doctor uses to improve or support health care services.

Child Abuse

Child abuse and neglect occur when a child is mistreated, resulting in injury or risk of harm. Types of child abuse and neglect are identified within four categories. The definitions include a summary of indicators to explain the meaning. None of the indicators alone are definitive of child abuse. It is necessary to look at the family's total functioning to determine present and impending danger.

Physical Abuse

 Physical abuse refers to an action of the parent, guardian, or custodian that is non-accidental and results in physical injuries, often occurring in the name of discipline or punishment.

 *Bruises and Welts

*On the face, lips, mouth

*On the torso, back, buttocks, thighs

*In various stages of healing

*Clustered, forming a regular pattern

*Reflecting the shape of the article used to inflict, electric cord or belt buckle

*On several different surface areas, they regularly appear after an absence, on weekends, or on vacation

*Subdural hemorrhage or hematomas

*Internal injuries

*Brain damage


*Cigar, cigarette burns, especially on soles, palms, back, or buttocks

*Immersion burns sock-like, glove-like, doughnut-shaped on buttocks or genitalia, patterned like an electric burner, iron

*Rope burns on arms, legs, neck, or torso


*The skull, nose, and facial structure in various stages of healing

*Multiple or spiral fractures

bone fracture-unexplained and in various stages of healing

*Lacerations or Abrasions

*To mouth, lips, gums, eyes

*To external genitalia

*Behavioral Indicators

*Behavioral extremes; aggressiveness or withdrawal

*Frightened parents

*Afraid to go home

*Reports injury by parents

*Physical Neglect

*Physical neglect occurs when a parent, guardian, or custodian fails to provide for a child's basic needs, like food, clothing, shelter, education, medical care or supervision, and abandonment. The failure to meet basic needs must represent a threat to the child's immediate health and safety or an impending danger if a pattern or history of the child's needs is not being met.

Physical Indicators

*The child is malnourished, emaciated, hungry, begging for food, or seldom fed nutritious food. A medical diagnosis is usually necessary to determine malnutrition.

*The child's clothing is inappropriate or insufficient to protect the child from the weather, or the dress is so dirty or smelly that it constitutes a health hazard.

*The caretakers fail to provide a home, or the house is in a condition that presents a health hazard or dangers such as fire.

*The caretakers refuse to permit a child to attend school. Truancy alone does not constitute child abuse or neglect but may be an indication when considered with other family factors.

*The caretakers fail to seek medical or dental treatment for a health problem or condition that, if untreated, could represent a danger to the child.

*The caretakers fail to provide supervision of a child. The child's age and competence, amount of time left unsupervised, time of day the child is unsupervised, and degree of parental planning for the unsupervised period must be considered. In addition, community standards need to be considered when making judgments concerning lack of supervision.

*The child is abandoned. Abandonment is a legal term meaning contact with the child has not been attempted by the caretaker for an extended time.

Behavioral Indicators

*Begging, stealing food

*Extended stays at school; early arrival and late departure

*Constant fatigue, listlessness, or falling asleep in class

*States there is no caretaker

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse and exploitation occur when a parent, guardian, or custodian commits or allows contact or interactions between a child and adult. The child is used for the sexual stimulation of the parent, guardian, caretaker, or another responsible person. Sexual abuse may also be committed by a person under eighteen when that person is significantly older than the victim or in a position of power and control over the child.

Physical Indicators

*Difficulty walking or sitting

*Pain or itching in the genital area

*Bruises or bleeding in external genitalia, vaginal or anal areas

*Venereal disease, especially in pre-teens



Behavioral Indicators

*Unwilling to change to the gym or participate in a physical education class

*Withdrawal, fantasy or bizarre, sophisticated, or unusual sexual behavior or knowledge

*Poor peer relationships

*Delinquent or runaway behavior

*Reports sexual assault by a caretaker

Emotional Abuse

Emotional maltreatment occurs when a parent, guardian, or custodian fails to provide the emotional nurturing needed for a child's psychological growth and development or willfully denies the child the emotional stability necessary for proper psychological growth and development. Emotional maltreatment results in an observable or measurable impairment of the child.

Physical Indicators

*Failure to thrive is diagnosed. The child does not gain weight or meet developmental norms, despite adequate feedings and the absence of physiological causes. Failure to thrive is caused by failure to emotionally nurture, cuddle and hold the child, such as leaving the child in a crib all day. The clearest indicator of failure to thrive is the placement of a child in another environment, where the child dramatically gains weight and thrives.

*The caretaker verbally abuses the child, such as constant harassment, belittling, humiliation, repeated threats, or constant criticism.

*The caretaker condones, suggests, or encourages the child to commit theft or prostitution.

*The child is ignored or isolated by parents physically and emotionally for prolonged periods. An example includes a child sent to an empty room for hours or days to be separated from the rest of the family.

*The child is placed in a position of acting as a parent to a significantly needed or inadequate parent

*Intentional infliction of physical or mental injury upon a child; a deliberate act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or psychological harm to a child; or active encouragement of any person to commit an act that results or could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child.

If you suspect or know of a child or vulnerable adult in immediate danger, call 911

 Any person who knows, or has reasonable cause to suspect, that a child is abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent, legal custodian, caregiver, or another person responsible for the child's welfare is a mandatory reporter.

Be prepared to provide the following information:

 *Reporter name (this is required for professionally mandated reporters)

*Victim name, possible responsible person, or alleged perpetrator name(s)

*Complete addresses for subjects, including a numbered street address, apartment or lot number, city, state, and zip code, and directions to their location

*Telephone numbers, including area code

*Estimated or actual dates of birth

*Social Security numbers, if available

*A brief yet concise description of the abuse, neglect, abandonment, or exploitation, including physical, mental, or sexual injuries.

*Names of other residents and their relationship to the victim(s), if available

*A brief description of the victim's disability or infirmity (required for vulnerable adults)

*The relationship of the alleged perpetrator to the victim

What Is Psychological Trauma?

Psychological trauma is a type of damage to the mind that occurs due to a severely distressing event. Trauma is often the result of an overwhelming amount of stress that exceeds one's ability to cope or integrate the emotions involved with that experience. A traumatic event involves one's experience or repeating events of being overwhelmed that can be precipitated in weeks, years, or even decades as the person struggles to cope with the immediate circumstances, eventually leading to serious, long-term negative consequences.

How Does Trauma Affect Students?

The effects of trauma on students are far more pervasive than adults imagine. For example, the National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence found that over 60% of children surveyed experienced trauma, crime, or abuse in the prior year, with some experiencing multiple traumas. Often, children and adolescents do not have the necessary coping skills to manage the impact of stressful or traumatic events. As such, as many as one in three students who experience a traumatic event might exhibit symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In addition, following a child's exposure to a traumatic event, parents and teachers are likely to observe the following symptoms:

Reexperiencing — constantly thinking about the event, replaying it over in their minds, nightmares.

Avoidance — consciously trying to avoid engagement, trying not to think about the event.

Negative Cognitions and Mood — blaming others or self, diminished interest in pleasurable activities, inability to remember key aspects of the event.

Arousal — being on edge, being on the lookout, constantly being worried.


Situations That Can Traumatize a Child

*Physical or sexual abuse

*Abandonment, betrayal of trust (such as abuse by a caregiver), or neglect

*The death or loss of a loved one

*Life-threatening illness in a caregiver

*Automobile accidents or other serious accidents

*Witnessing domestic violence


*Life-threatening health situations and/or painful medical procedures

*Witnessing or experiencing community violence (e.g., drive-by shooting, fight at school, robbery)

*Witnessing police activity or having a close relative incarcerated

*Life-threatening natural disasters

*Acts or threats of terrorism


Student Behavior that is self-directed and deliberately results in injury or the potential for injury to oneself. Self-harm behaviors can be either non-suicidal or suicidal. Although non-suicidal self-injury lacks suicidal intent, youth who engage in self-harm should receive mental health care.  Treatment can improve coping strategies to lower the urge to self-harm and reduce the long-term risk of a future suicide attempt.

Resilience and Recovery

Some children, if given support, will recover within a few weeks or months from the fear and anxiety caused by a traumatic experience. However, some children need more help over a more extended period to heal and may need continuing support from family, teachers, or mental health professionals. In addition, anniversaries of the event or media reports may remind the child, causing a recurrence of symptoms, feelings, and behaviors.

Children exposed to violence often need adult support to learn how to de-escalate to manage emotions and behavior. In addition, they need encouragement to interact with peers in a mutually satisfying manner.

 A healthy relationship with emotionally available caregivers helps children acquire the resilience they need to overcome the effects of trauma.

Suicide Prevention

Suicide risk is dynamic and exists on a continuum with various levels of risk. Each level of risk requires a different level of response and intervention by the school and the district. A student who is defined as high-risk for suicide is one who has made a suicide attempt, has the intent to die by suicide, or has displayed a notable change in behavior suggesting the onset of potential mental health conditions or deterioration of mental health. The student may have thoughts about suicide, including potential means of death, and may have a plan. In addition, the student may exhibit behaviors or feelings of isolation, hopelessness, helplessness, and the inability to tolerate any more pain. This situation would necessitate a referral, as documented in the following procedures. The type of referral, and its level of urgency, shall be determined by the student’s level of risk — according to local district policy.

Suicidal thoughts or behaviors are both damaging and dangerous. Someone experiencing these thoughts should seek immediate assistance from a health or mental health care provider. Having suicidal thoughts does not mean someone is weak or flawed.

If you or someone you know is in an emergency, *Call 211

*Text 605Strong to 898211 Visit:

*Call 1-800-273-8255 Visit:


 *Text icare to 898211


The Risk Factors for Suicide

 Risk factors are characteristics or conditions that increase the chance that a person may try to attempt suicide.  Suicide risk tends to be the highest when someone has several risk factors at the same time or has long-standing risk factors and experiences a sudden or devastating setback.  These factors interact, and the more there are and the more they intensify, the greater the risk.

Know the Warning Signs

 *Threats or comments about killing themselves, also known as suicidal ideation, can begin with harmless thoughts like "I wish I wasn't here" but can become more overt and dangerous

*Major depression (feeling down, withdrawn, or agitated in a way that impacts daily life)



*Bipolar disorder

*Post-traumatic stress disorder

*Eating disorders

*Increased alcohol and drug use

*Problems with impulse control and aggression

*Serious medical condition and/or pain

*Personality traits that create a pattern of intense, unstable relationships, or trouble with the law

*History of early childhood trauma, abuse, neglect, or loss

*History of head trauma

*Social withdrawal from friends, family, and the community

*Dramatic mood swings

*Talking, writing, or thinking about death

*Impulsive or reckless behavior

*Agitation and sleep deprivation

*Research has found that more than half of people who died by suicide did not have a known mental health condition.

Protective Factors

Protective factors are characteristics or conditions that may help to decrease a person’s suicide risks.  These factors do not eliminate the possibility of suicide, especially in someone with risk factors.  Protective factors help to create resilience, or an ability to “bounce back” from setbacks encountered throughout life. Major protective factors for suicide include:

*Effective behavioral health care

*Positive Connectedness to individuals, family, community, and social institutions

*Life skills (including problem-solving skills and coping skills, ability to adapt to change)

*Access to welcoming and affirming faith-based institutions and supportive social groups

*Presence of healthy role models

*Self-esteem and a sense of purpose or meaning in life

*Cultural, religious, or personal beliefs that discourage suicide and promote seeking help

 Please note that there can be times that students have protective factors, but they are temporarily dismantled and there is still a risk of experiencing an acute stressor or worsening of a risk factor.


Center for Mental Health Services

 After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Suicide Prevention Resource Center

Guidelines for School-Based Suicide Prevention Programs

American Association of Suicidology

 Youth Suicide Prevention, Intervention, and Postvention Guidelines: A Resource for School Personnel

Trevor Resource Kit

The Trevor Project

 Supportive Families, Healthy Children: Helping Families with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender

(LGBT) Children

 Family Acceptance Project

 National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement

Supporting the Grieving Child and Family

American Academy of Pediatrics

Guidelines For Schools Responding to a Death by Suicide

National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement

Crisis Response and Team

A multidisciplinary team of administrative staff, mental health professionals, safety professionals, and support staff whose primary focus is to address crisis preparedness, intervention, response, and recovery. Crisis response teams are comprised of school counselors, psychologists, resource police officers, clergy, school social workers, and school nurses. The primary purpose of the teams is to support schools, students, and staff members when a crisis occurs. In addition, the team focuses on addressing the emotional (mental health) effects that may accompany a traumatic event. Every event is unique and calls for individualized attention and consideration regarding its circumstances.

Examples of a School Crisis

*Death of a student, a staff member, or a community member whose death affects a sizable portion of the school population

*A major environmental crisis, such as a flood or fire

*The situation that involves a threat to the physical safety of students, such as a school bus accident, even in the absence of injuries

*A situation that involves a perceived threat to the emotional well-being of students, such as may be precipitated by hate-crime graffiti or repetitive bomb threats

Threat Assessment

Threat assessment is a behavioral approach to violence prevention that focuses on threats and other forms of student conflict before escalating into violent behavior. The threat assessment team uses a problem-solving team approach to evaluate the risk of violence posed by someone and intervene and resolve the issues that underlie the threatening behavior.

The goals of threat assessment are to keep schools safe and to help potential offenders overcome the underlying sources of their anger, hopelessness, or despair. In addition, effective threat assessment provides school professionals with helpful information about a student's risks and personal resources. Among the other potential student risks that can be identified and prevented are suicide, alcohol and drug use, physical abuse, dropping out, and criminal activity.

The CSTAG model of threat assessment approaches violence prevention that emphasizes prompt attention to problems such as bullying, teasing, and other forms of student conflict before they escalate into violent behavior. School staff members are encouraged to adopt a flexible, problem-solving approach, distinguished from a more punitive, zero-tolerance approach to student misbehavior. As a result of this training, the model is intended to generate broader changes in staff-student interactions around disciplinary matters and encourage a more positive school climate in which students feel treated with fairness and respect.

The guidelines follow a five-step decision tree.

1. Evaluate the threat.

 (No   -     Not a threat.  Might be an expression of anger that merits attention.)

2. Attempt to resolve the threat as transient.

 (Yes  -   Case resolved as transient; add services as needed.)

3. Respond to a substantive threat.

 (Serious Case  -   resolve as a serious substantive threat; add services as needed.)

Take precautions to protect potential victims.

Warn the intended victim and parents.

Look for ways to resolve conflict.

Disciplined students, when appropriate.

4. Conduct a safety evaluation for a serious substantive threat.

Screen student for mental health services and counseling; refer as needed

 Law enforcement investigation for evidence of planning and preparation, criminal activity.

5. Implement and monitor the safety plan.

 Document the plan.

Maintain contact with the student

Monitor whether the plan is working and revise as needed.

 In brief, the first two steps are a triage process in which team members investigate a reported threat and determine whether the threat can be resolved as a transient threat that is not serious. Examples of transient threats are jokes or statements made in anger, expressions of feeling, or figures of speech rather than expressions of a genuine intent to harm someone.

Any threat that cannot be identified and resolved as a transient is treated as a substantive threat. Substantive threats always require protective action to prevent the threat from being carried out. The remaining three steps guide the team through a more extensive assessment and response based on the seriousness of the threat. In the most serious cases, the team conducts a safety evaluation that includes a law enforcement investigation and a mental health assessment of the student. The culmination of the threat assessment is the development of a safety plan designed to address the problem or conflict underlying the threat and prevent the act of violence. For both transient and substantive threats, there is an emphasis on helping students resolve disputes and minimizing the use of zero-tolerance suspensions as a disciplinary response.

A Guide for School Personnel and Parents

 The Belle Fourche School District is establishing amending policies and procedures for the prevention of violence on school grounds, including assessing and intervening with individuals whose behavior poses a threat to the safety of the school community.

Threat Assessment is an essential aspect of the changes being made. Threat Assessment is a violence prevention strategy that involves identifying student threats to commit a violent act, determining the seriousness of the threat, and developing intervention plans that protect potential victims and address the underlying problem or conflict that stimulated the threatening behavior.

Bullying Prevention

Bullying includes cyberbullying and means systematically and chronically inflicting physical hurt or psychological distress on one or more students or employees. It is further defined as unwanted and repeated written, verbal, or physical behavior, including any threatening, insulting, or dehumanizing gesture, by a student or adult that is severe or pervasive enough to create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational environment; cause discomfort or humiliation, or unreasonably interfere with the individual's school performance or participation.

The Belle Fourche School District is designed to help ensure all our students feel safe and respected while attending school.

Common Indicators of Bullying

If your child exhibits one or more of these warning signs, they may be a victim of bullying. Please talk with your child to explore further whether they are being bullied.

*Withdraws socially, has few or no friends

*Feels isolated, alone, and sad

*Feels picked on or persecuted

*Feels rejected and not liked

*Frequently complains of illness

*Does not want to go to school; avoids some classes or skips school

*Brings home damaged possessions or reports them "lost."

*Cries quickly; displays mood swings and talks about hopelessness

*Has poor social skills

*Talks about running away; talks of suicide

*Threatens violence to self or others

*Changes in eating or sleeping patterns

*Takes, or attempts to take, "protection" to school (a stick, knife, gun, etc.)

*Displays "victim" body language – hangs head, hunches shoulder, avoids eye contact


Cyberbullying is bullying over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets. Cyberbullying can occur through SMS, Text, and apps, or online in social media, forums, or gaming where people can view, participate in, or share content. Cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else. It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else, causing embarrassment or humiliation. Some cyberbullying crosses the line into unlawful or criminal behavior.

The most usual places where cyberbullying occurs are:

*Social Media, such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter

*SMS (Short Message Service), also known as Text Message sent through devices

*Instant Message (via devices, email provider services, apps, and social media messaging features)


*Warning Signs a Child is Being Cyberbullied or is Cyberbullying Others

*Many of the warning signs that cyberbullying occurs around a child's use of their device.

Some of the warning signs that a child may be involved in cyberbullying are:

 *Noticeable increases or decreases in device use, including texting

*A child exhibits emotional responses (laughter, anger, upset) to what is happening on their device

*A child hides their screen or device when others are near and avoids discussion about what they are doing on their device

*Social media accounts are shut down, or new ones appear

*A child starts to avoid social situations, even those that were enjoyed in the past

*A child becomes withdrawn or depressed or loses interest in people and activities

Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is the harmful pattern of using substances—such as tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs, and prescription drugs—leading to impairment or distress with one or more of the following behaviors:

*Recurrent substance uses results in failure to fulfill primary responsibilities at work, school, or home, such as repeated absences, suspension, and expulsion

*Recurrent substance used in situations where it is physically dangerous, such as driving while impaired

*Recurrent substance-related legal problems, such as arrests for disorderly conduct that are substance-related

*Continued substance uses despite having persistent or recurring social or personal problems caused or worsened by substance use


 Providing education and awareness of substance use and abuse, alcohol, and tobacco is imperative to promoting our students' academic success and health and well-being.

Understanding Grief, Loss, and Bereavement

Grief is a natural reaction to loss and can affect every part of our lives — physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. Grief reactions range from anger, guilt, and anxiety to changes in appetite or behavior. It is best not to think of grief as a series of stages. Instead, think of the grieving process as a roller coaster — full of difficulties, highs, and lows

Common reactions include:

*Physical sensations: hunger, nausea, and breathlessness

*Behaviors: sleep and appetite disturbances, crying, and social withdrawal

*Feelings: sadness, loneliness, increased irritability, guilt, fear, and relief

*Thoughts: disbelief, confusion, obsessive thinking about the deceased

*Spiritual reactions: embracing religious rituals or questioning faith

Youth Mental Health First Aid

Youth Mental Health First Aid is a course that gives teachers, school staff, parents, family members, caregivers, peers, neighbors, health and human services workers, and other caring citizens how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing mental health or addictions challenge or is in crisis. Youth Mental Health First Aid is primarily designed for adults who regularly interact with young people. The course introduces common mental health challenges for youth, reviews typical adolescent development, and teaches a 5-step action plan to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations. Topics covered include anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders in which psychosis may occur, disruptive behavior disorders (including AD/HD), and eating disorders.

When you take a course, you learn how to apply the Mental Health First Aid action plan in a variety of situations, including when someone is experiencing:

*Panic attacks

*Suicidal thoughts or behaviors

*Non suicidal self-injury

*Acute psychosis (e.g., hallucinations or delusions)

*Overdose or withdrawal from alcohol or drug use

*Reaction to a traumatic event

*Through role plays, scenarios, and activities, the opportunity to practice makes it easier to apply these skills in a real-life situation.

 Adapted from


Abuse, Verbal is the use of language that is obscene, threatening, intimidating or degrades other people. Verbal abuse that is also sexual, religious,, or racial harassment shall be addressed under the guidelines for harassment.

Dangerous Weapons and Firearms

Any person, other than a law enforcement officer or school sentinel, that carries, possesses, stores, keeps, leaves, places, or puts into the possession of another person, any dangerous weapon, firearm, or air gun, whether or not the firearm or air gun is designed, adapted, used, or intended to be used primarily for imitative or noisemaking purposes, on or in any public elementary or secondary school premises, vehicle, or building, or on or in any premises, vehicle, or building used or leased for public elementary

or secondary school functions, whether or not any person is endangered is in violation of this policy

Dangerous Weapons. No student may possess, handle, or transmit any weapon while in school grounds or at any school activity or event off school grounds except as permitted by this policy.

Definition of Dangerous Weapon. The term “dangerous weapon” means any object, device, the instrument, material, or substance that can cause injury in the manner it is used or intended to be used.

Exceptions Regarding Dangerous Weapons.

The prohibition against dangerous weapons does not apply to Weapons that may lawfully be possessed by a person who is receiving training at the school under the immediate supervision of an adult instructor; Employees that utilize an instrument, i.e. knife, for educational or maintenance purposes.

Consequences – Dangerous Weapons. Any student that brings a dangerous weapon to school will, except as modified herein, be suspended from school for a period of 3 days.

The suspension requirement may be modified by the principal on a case-by-case basis to not less than 1 day, or up to 10 days. The superintendent may consider the violation for long-term suspension or expulsion on a case-by-case basis.

Confiscation of Dangerous Weapons. Administrative and teaching personnel are statutorily authorized, without a warrant, to confiscate any dangerous weapons possessed in violation of this policy.

Firearms. No person may bring, possess, handle, or transmit a firearm on school grounds, in a school-owned vehicle, or at a school activity or event off school grounds, except as permitted by this policy.

Definition of Firearm. The term “firearm, as defined in 18 U.S.C. 921, means any weapon (including a starter gun) which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive, the frame or receiver of any such weapon, any firearm muffler or firearm silencer, or any destructive device.

Exceptions Regarding Firearms. The prohibition against firearms does not apply to:  

Firearms are lawfully possessed by a law enforcement official or school sentinel.

The use of a starting gun at an athletic event.

 Firearms that may lawfully be possessed by a person who is receiving training at the school under the immediate supervision of an adult instructor.

Unloaded firearms may lawfully be possessed by a person for the purpose of using them as part of a color guard ceremony.

Consequences - Firearm. Any student who brings a firearm, as that term is defined in 18 The United States Code 921, to school will be expelled from school for one calendar year. The superintendent of schools and the Board of Education shall have the authority to modify the expulsion requirement on a case-by-case basis.

Confiscation of Firearms. Administrative and teaching personnel are statutorily authorized, without a warrant, to confiscate any firearm possessed in violation of this policy. By statute, any firearm that is confiscated by school personnel shall be delivered to a peace officer as soon as practicable. Such firearms are subject to being destroyed by law enforcement authorities.

Report to Law Enforcement Authorities.

All school personnel are required to report any violation of this policy to the principal or the superintendent of schools. Pursuant to state and federal law, school personnel is required to report to law enforcement authorities when a student brings a firearm or weapon to school. Staff Violation of Policy. Staff that violates this policy shall be subject to personal discipline procedures, up to and including dismissal.

Alcohol or Chemical, Possession, Distribution, or Use is the possession, distribution, or use of any alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, narcotics, controlled substance, or drug paraphernalia where possession, distribution, or use is prohibited by South Dakota or federal law.

Arson is intentional destruction or damage to school property or other property by means of fire.

Assault, Aggravated is committing or threatening to commit an assault upon another person with a weapon, or assault which inflicts great bodily harm upon another person.

Assault, Verbal is language toward another person that is intended to cause fear of bodily harm or death.

Assault, Physical is acting with intent to cause fear in another person of immediate bodily harm or death, or intentionally inflicting or attempting to inflict bodily harm upon another person.

Board or school board is the duly constituted Board of Education of the Belle Fourche School District, No. 9-1, Butte County, South Dakota.

Bomb Threat is intentionally making, publishing,, or conveying in any manner a bomb threat pertaining to a school location.

Bullying is teasing, coercive behavior, and other offensive or mean-spirited conduct.

Burglary is entering any school location without consent and with the intent to commit a crime (e.g. vandalism or theft).

Bus Behavior while on district-provided buses, students shall adhere to the same behavior expectations, standards, and consequences as at school.

Day or Days refers to working school day or days. Regarding Suspension, a “School Day” equals classes and all school-sponsored activities during and after school.

Detention is the time assigned outside of school time to be made up by the student.

 Dishonesty, Scholastic includes, but is not limited to, cheating on school assignments or tests, plagiarism,, or collusion. Academic consequences may also be assigned.

Dress & Grooming are the expectations by the school regarding appropriate clothing worn by students.

*Inappropriate dress includes:

*Wearing clothing that includes words or pictures which are obscene, vulgar, abusive, discriminatory or which promotes or advertises alcohol, chemicals, marijuana, tobacco, or any product that is illegal for use by minors.

*Wearing clothing and other items or grooming in a manner that represents and or promotes threat/hate groups including gangs or supremacist groups.

*Wearing clothing or grooming in a manner that is sexually explicit or which conveys sexual innuendo, or that may be construed as sexual.

*Wearing any headwear during the school day without permission from the school administration.

*Wearing clothing or grooming that is potentially disruptive to the education process or that poses a threat to the health and safety of others.

Explosives, Possession, and or Use is possessing or using any compound or mixture which can cause an explosion. Expulsion is the action of the school board to terminate a pupil’s membership in school.

 Extortion or robbery is to obtain another person’s property either by implied or expressed threat.

False Reporting is deliberately reporting false information about the behavior of a student or staff person.

Fighting is engaging in any form of mutual combat where blows are exchanged.

False Fire alarm is intentionally giving a false alarm of a fire or tampering or interfering with any fire alarm.

Fireworks or Ammunition Possession is the possession or offering for sale of any type of fireworks, bullets, or ammunition on school property.

Gambling includes but is not limited to playing a game of chance for stakes or possession of gambling devices such as video games, machines, and other items used to promote a game of chance.

Gang Activity the use of graffiti emblems, symbolism, hand signs, slang, tattoos, jewelry, discussions, clothing, or any means that demonstrates gang-related activity.

A Grievance is a complaint by a student or group of students based upon an alleged violation of a student’s rights or misinterpretation or inequitable application of any student handbook provision, policies, rules, or regulations of the Belle Fourche School District or the State of South Dakota, or any decisions, rules, or policies stated, enacted, or imposed by the district personnel as applied to the students at the Belle Fourche School District.

Harassment/Discrimination is racial, sexual, and religious harassment/discrimination and violence as defined in the district policy.

Inappropriate Behavior is defined as students who conduct themselves in such a manner as to disrupt the educational process and impede the learning of themselves and/or other students, and when requested to cease such behavior, they are disobedient and continue such behavior.

In-School Suspension is the restriction of a student to a certain area within the school whereby the student is required to work on school assignments for the purpose of learning with academic credit being given.

Instigating is spreading rumors or agitating a conflict that may escalate the conflict between others.

Insubordination is any instance of refusal or failure to comply with school board policies, rules, regulations, instructions, or directions – also the failure to accept and carry out reasonable instructions are given by one in authority. 

Long-Term Suspension is the exclusion of a pupil by the superintendent or school board from a class or classes for more than ten school days.

Nuisance Objects are the possession, use, or distribution of any object that causes distractions.

Out-of-School Suspension is the restriction of a student from the entrance to the school building for a specified number of days.

A policy is a rule, regulation, or standard enacted or approved by the school board.

Profanity is language or gestures that are obscene, vulgar, abusive, or discriminatory.

Pushing, Shoving, Tripping, and Scuffling are physical contact that could harm others.

Reasonable Force means nothing herein contained shall be constituted as prohibiting or denying an employee has the right to use such force as may be reasonable and necessary to control a situation, maintain order and protect persons and/or property.

Restitution is payment for the value or the replacement cost of damaged or lost property.

Sexual Misconduct is engaging in sexual comments, indecent sexual gestures, or exposure or engaging in sexual contact including intentional touching of the clothing covering a person’s intimate parts.

Short-Term Suspension is the exclusion by the principal or superintendent of a student from a class or from school for not more than ten school days.

Skipping is an unapproved absence from an assigned area within the school day.

Student Rights are those privileges granted to students by the policies, rules, or regulations of the

Belle Fourche School District, or regulations, laws, or constitutions of the State of South Dakota or the United States of America.

Tardy a student is considered tardy when not in the classroom after the bell has rung.

Technology Misuse is the misuse of computer equipment, deletion or violation of password-protected files, computer programs, or data or system files, inappropriate accessing of files, unethical use of information, or violation of copyright laws.

Theft, Receiving or Possession of Stolen Property is the unauthorized taking, receiving, using, transferring, hiding, or possession of school property or that of another person.

Homemade treats for students are discouraged. If treats are brought to school, we encourage commercial products.

Tobacco Possession or Use is the possession or use of tobacco in any school location or event.

Trespassing is the presence of the student in an area of the school building or school grounds designated by school administrators or personnel as being an unauthorized area or unavailable for student use. Truancy means any absence (by a student under age 16) for part or all of one or more days from school during which the school has not been notified of the legal cause of the absence by the parent/guardian of the absent student. It also means intermittent attendance carried on for the purpose of defeating the intent of compulsory attendance.

Unique Situations are discipline situations that arise which are not covered by guidelines and will be handled on a case-by-case basis. Unique or special situations may call for an adjustment in the discipline policies.

Vandalism Littering, defacing, cutting, or damaging property, technology, or telecommunication equipment that belongs to the school district, other students, staff members, or other individuals.

Weapons, Students are forbidden to possess, transmit, buy, sell; or assist other persons in obtaining, storing, keeping, leaving, placing, or putting into the possession of another person; or use weapons or firearms of any kind. Students are prohibited from bringing to school or school-related activities any weapons or firearms of any kind. This prohibition will normally not apply to school supplies, such as pencils, compasses, and the like unless they are used in a menacing or threatening manner. See district policy JFCJ.

Threatening Remarks or Act, any threat by a student involving the use of firearms, explosives, or deadly force against school property or people attending, employed, or visiting school facilities will result in immediate suspension with referral to the Superintendent of Schools for disposition of appropriate disciplinary procedures.

Student attendance and tardiness policy  

This policy is because something happens in class every day and the activity or interaction between teacher and students can never be duplicated.  The administration reserves the right to investigate excessive occurrences. In instances of chronic or irregular absence due to illness, the school administration may request a physician's statement certifying such absences to be justifiable.  Any absence other than excused absence is considered truancy. All absences excused or unexcused beyond 8 days per class/per semester will result in a loss of credit. All absences except for school activities are counted in the eight days.  A student receiving no credit must continue in the course until the end of the semester.

In the event of loss of credit, the student may appeal this action. For appeals, the student must appear before the Board of Education or its designer and substantiate in writing the reasons for excessive absences. The Board or EXCUSED designee will take this into advisement and will decide with input from the petitioners, teachers, and administrator. Consideration of days absent: the reason for absence, documentation for absence, such as doctor-approved, family emergencies; educational absence; an absence that could not be avoided.

A. Parent(s)/guardian(s) must contact the school, verbally or in writing, to excuse the student's absence from school. Students needing to be excused for appointments must have a written note or phone call from the parent or guardian to the school in order to be released. 

 B. School personnel will attempt to notify parents or guardians of student absences.


 A. A student who is on campus but not in a regularly scheduled class will be considered unexcused. 

B. Any absence, which is not explained by a parent/guardian upon the student's return to school, will be considered unexcused.

C. Truancy proceedings as per state SDCL Chapter 13-27 may be initiated if deemed necessary.


 Truancy means any absence (by a student under age 18) for part or all of one or more days from school during which the school has not been notified of the legal cause of the absence by the parent/guardian of the absent student. It also means intermittent attendance carried on for the purpose of defeating the intent of compulsory attendance.

 When absenteeism has become detrimental to student achievement and the student/parent/guardian has ignored every effort by the district to gain compulsory attendance, the principal may begin truancy proceedings against the parent/guardian.  Prior to such actions, the principal shall have:

A. Communicated with the student's parents/guardians to discuss the student's truancy or have attempted to meet and been refused.

B. Offered an opportunity for educational counseling with school personnel and the tudent/parent/guardian.


 For all absences, the student must make up the work missed.  Students will have at least as many school days as they were absent; plus, one additional day, to complete make-up. For work that is not made up, a grade of zero will be recorded on the student's record. If, because of incomplete work, it can be shown that a student cannot pass a class, a teacher may request the administration to drop the student from the class.  Dropping from a class will result in a withdrawal/failing at the student's actual percentage grade at the time of withdrawal to be figured into the GPA.


 When an excuse is found to be false or fraudulent, the principal's office personnel have the right to disallow the false or fraudulent excuse. These situations will be handled on a case-by-case basis.  Office personnel will use their own discretion to determine the validity of all excuses.


 1. The office will make a reasonable effort to notify parents and/or guardians by phone when a student has reached his or her fifth absence.

2. Parents will receive an attendance letter, e-mail, or text message notifying parents when a student reaches their seventh absence.

3. Students will lose credit when they have nine or more absences in a class. A letter stating the loss of credit will be sent to the parents on the ninth absence. Students will be required to continue in the class until the end of the semester and they will be required to take the semester test.

4. Medical absences do not gain students additional days past the eight-day limit.

Decisions concerning the loss of credit may be appealed.  A Hearing Committee may listen to attendance issues brought forward by parents and/or students. Proper documentation will need to be presented concerning the absences. The Hearing Committee will consist of the high school’s lead teacher, the high school guidance counselor, the activities director, the special education director as well as the school nurse or healthcare designee.  The purpose of the committee is to review student absences and to make a decision as to whether the student should have his/her credit withheld or reinstated. The decision of the committee may be appealed to the Board of Education or their designee.


 Students are encouraged to leave cell phones in their locked lockers or locked car. If a student does choose to carry a cell phone, they must have the phone turned off and out of sight during class time. If a teacher sees or hears a cell phone during class, they will ask the student to put the device away and refer them to the office. Cell phone violations will be considered a class one offense. Consequences will follow the Belle Fourche High School disciplinary matrix.


 Students are prohibited from using any type of recording device to record activities that take place in the classroom unless prior permission from the teacher has been granted.


 Student Visitors – students will not be allowed to bring visitors to the school.

Adult Visitors – are required to call in advance to the office to schedule a school visit.


 If, because of disciplinary removal from class, a student no longer meets full-time status, he/she may lose all privileges including but not limited to open campus, school-sponsored class or organizational office, extra-curricular dances, or activities sponsored by the school, etc.  Students in the 9th and 10th grades will be assigned to a study hall for the period/s from which they were removed.


 Any student proven to be guilty of plagiarism or cheating will earn a zero for the work in question. This includes providing work or answers to help support the cheating or plagiarism of another student. They will also be subject to disciplinary action in alignment with the Belle Fourche High School disciplinary matrix.



A student who commits any of the following acts, or who exhibits behavior contrary to the following while on school property or premises or while participating in any school activity, including traveling to or from such school activity under school control and supervision, directly or indirectly, shall be subject to short-term suspension as determined and administered by the principal or superintendent or shall be subject to long-term suspension as determined by the superintendent or expulsion as determined by the School Board pursuant to and after a due process hearing is conducted by the School Board:*

1. No student shall possess, consume, supply, sell, purchase, or be under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, marijuana, or any controlled substance as defined by the laws of the State of South Dakota, including synthetic drugs.

2. No student shall alter any school records or forge or otherwise misrepresent signatures of any other student, parent, physician, employer, or school personnel.

3. No student shall take, misappropriate, damage, or destroy any school property or any property owned, possessed, or controlled by any other party on school premises or within the jurisdiction of the School Board.

4. No student shall commit any acts of violence or boisterous conduct or threatening conduct including abusive or obscene language or gestures or any other moral improprieties, which interfere with or prevents any school personnel or student from performing his/her respective duties.

5. No student shall disobey or defy directions or instructions issued by school personnel respecting school matters or when such directions and instructions are issued as part of supervisory control of the students.

6. No student shall violate School Board policies respecting student conduct, behavior, or attendance.

7. No student shall violate any of the laws of the State of South Dakota while on school premises or while under the supervision of school personnel.

8. No student shall use, possess, or distribute tobacco of any type on school property, or on the way to or at a school activity.

Public Display of Affection (PDA)

PDA shall be defined as and not limited to kissing, caressing, having an arm or arms around one another, etc., regardless of gender.


The student, when representing the school at home or away, shall conduct herself/himself in a manner that will bring favorable comments from the observer.

 The student shall acquaint herself/himself with the overall policies of the school regarding conduct and support and encourage the support of the policy whenever he/she is representing the school. 

 The following will be considered infractions of this section concerning conduct:

 1. Driving and/or parking in a careless manner.

 2. Smoking or chewing tobacco, or possessing it in school buildings or on school grounds.

 3. Being inconsiderate of the staff.

 4. Defacing walls, doors, panels, or surfaces by writing, coloring, or scratching.

 5. Removing any equipment or property from its appointed place.

 6. Conducting unauthorized raffles or fund-raising activities - (money will be confiscated).

 7. Playing cards or tossing coins for money (money and cards will be confiscated).

 8. Any type of gambling.

The school group should maintain an air of mutual respect and tolerance in the building and on the grounds, realizing that differences of opinion are inevitable.  School provides a means of settling those differences.  The principal and each faculty member fill that provision, and it is the responsibility of the student to inform one of these people as to the conditions of a difference.  At no time and under no condition is a student allowed to take the law into his/her own hands. Regardless of the justification for an overt action, because of a grievance, each student will be held responsible for using the proper faculty contact in the case of a difference or grievance.

Matters of a strictly out-of-school, personal nature should be kept apart from school.  The proper place for such matters is in the home.  The administration and faculty are available for advice and counseling in any personal matter the student wishes to entrust to them.


1. A clean and neat appearance is expected of students. Clothing depicting or promoting alcohol, drugs, marijuana,, or tobacco products will not be allowed. Also, clothing that is vulgar, sexual, immoral, or violent in nature will not be allowed.

2. Shoes are required. Rollerblade shoes are prohibited.

3. Hats, caps, and bandanas are not to be worn in the building while school is in session.

4. Initiation dress of any sort will not be permitted.

5. Coats and book bags are to be left in students’ lockers.

6.  Backless and strapless shirts are not allowed. Shirts need to cover your midsection even when your arms are raised above your head. sleeveless/collarless white undershirts are not to be worn in school. No SEE-THROUGH clothing is to be worn.

7. Sunglasses and objectionable contacts will not be worn in school. (Ex: objectionable contacts - Reptilian, Alien, Pure White or Red, etc.)

8.   Any student wearing apparel that a staff member deems objectionable will be asked to correct the problem.

9. Clothing or jewelry with spikes are not allowed.

10. Chains on billfolds and choker chains are not allowed.

11. Low cut blouses/shirts and shirts with spaghetti straps are not allowed.

12. Pants need to be kept pulled up, so undergarments are not showing.

13. All piercings are to be removed for sports activities and PE classes.


It is the policy of the Belle Fourche School District to provide a drug-free, healthful, safe, and secure educational and work environment.  The use of chemical substances, including alcohol and tobacco, by students, is illegal, unhealthy, and life-threatening.  There is no such thing as "responsible use" and the collaborative efforts of the entire community are needed to keep youth drug-free.  Students are required and expected to report to their classes and other school-related activities in appropriate mental and physical conditions to meet the requirements and expectations of their respective roles.

The Belle Fourche Public School System is committed to building a learning community and ensuring all learners have equal access to an excellent education program that results in learners who are responsible and accountable, who value lifelong learning and know-how to learn, and who are capable of succeeding in a changing society.  Use of chemical substances including alcohol is a serious problem, which adversely affects and undermines the mission of the school.

The use of such substances may lead to chemical dependency, which is a treatable illness.  Health problems are primarily the responsibility of the home and family.  However, the Belle Fourche School District is also concerned for the health, safety, and well-being of its students and employees and demonstrates this by providing responsible leadership through the development and implementation of prevention, the initial identification of suspected abuse, referral information, and staff development programs and policies which contribute to the well-being of students and adults.  The Belle Fourche School System has implemented this policy to ensure a drug-free work and educational environment to prevent the consequences of alcohol and other drug abuse.

1. Standards of Conduct

 The Belle Fourche School District prohibits the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, possession (including under the influence), or use of alcohol, tobacco, and other controlled substances or drug paraphernalia on school premises including parking areas, at any school-related activity, or in any school-related activity, or in any school vehicle.  Unlawful means in violation of federal/state/local regulations, policy, procedures, rules, as well as legal statutes.

The Belle Fourche School System recognizes that chemical dependency through the use of controlled or uncontrolled substances, including alcohol, is a treatable illness.  All Belle Fourche School locations will implement drug-free awareness programs for students.  The school system supports and recommends that students use such programs.  Such programs will ensure that all students are aware that:

Alcohol and other illegal drug use are wrong, harmful, and dangerous because it leads to physical impairment, loss of judgment, safety violations, and the risk of injury, poor health, or death.  Information about health risks and effects of controlled substances, alcohol, and tobacco, will be provided to all students.

Alcohol and other illegal drug abuse can also significantly lower performance in the classroom, thus impacting the school system and its mission as well as seriously affecting a student's educational and career goals.

It is a mandatory condition of attendance that all students must abide by this policy.  Violations of this alcohol and drug policy will result in disciplinary sanctions, which may include suspension or expulsion. Referral for prosecution and further legal consequences consistent with federal and state laws and regulations will occur.  Additionally, a student in violation may be required to successfully complete student assistance, or drug rehabilitation program as a condition of enrollment.

Use of drug/alcohol rehabilitation services is encouraged.  The school system may provide a preliminary needs assessment of students and provide a resource list of diagnostic and treatment services available outside the school.  The cost for these services is the responsibility of the parents or guardians of the student who may have a substance abuse condition.

 2. Disciplinary Sanctions Administrative Procedure

A student arrives at school under the influence or with possession or student arrest reported for alcohol and drug violations.

 First Offense

Administrator contacts the parents and police.

A student is immediately suspended from school for a minimum of 24 hours in the custody of a parent/guardian. Any student suspended will not be allowed to participate in any school activities for a minimum of one week.  There may also be additional sanctions imposed by the co-curricular policy. Students must hand in work for days of suspension with no credit given.

A student is required to successfully complete an educational program.  The cost for these services is the responsibility of the parents or guardians of the student who may have a substance abuse condition. If the student misses any group sessions of the educational program, a 3-day out-of-school suspension goes into effect.

The principal conducts reentry conferences with parents, students, school counselors, and designated teachers after completion of school suspension.  (Reviews suspension, educational classes, consequences of repeat offense, information on school and community counseling services available to student and family.)

Repeated Offenses

The administrator calls parents and police.

The student is immediately suspended for a minimum of 24 hours in custody of a parent/guardian and will not be allowed to participate in any school activities for a minimum of one week. There may also be additional sanctions imposed by the extracurricular policy.

An educational plan is contracted. Evaluation is required. Students must follow the recommendations of the evaluator.  If the student does not meet the group meeting or evaluation requirements, a 5-day out-of-school suspension takes effect.  The cost for these services is the responsibility of the parent(s) or guardians of the student who may have a substance abuse condition.

Principal conducts reentry conference with student, parent, school counselor, and designated teacher after completion of school suspension.

 Reasonable Suspicion that a student has consumed alcohol, tobacco, or used other illicit/drugs the suspicion is immediately reported to an administrator.

Administrator and reporting staff member visit with student and counselor (if possible) as soon as possible.

If it is determined that the student has consumed alcohol or used any other illicit drugs, the administrator or his/her designee calls the parent/guardian regarding the nature and outcome of the conference with the student.

 A staff member shall consider a student to have consumed alcohol if the student smells of alcohol.

If the school cannot determine the nature of the problem, the parent/guardian will be brought in immediately, if possible, but within 48 hours for a conference with the administrator, the reporting staff member, the counselor, and the student. Conference participants will:

 a. Review the circumstances (behaviors) which precipitated the conference.

b. Request data from parents and students to determine the nature of the problem i.e., the reasons for the behavior.

c. Review relevant school, community, medical, and counseling services available.

Behavioral Evidence for Alcohol/Drug Abuse Problems

 Staff will be alert to alcohol/drug-related behaviors. If these behaviors are present, staff will confront the student regarding his/her concern for the observed behavior.

If the behavior persists, the staff will notify the counselor who will in turn:

 A. Collect data from other teachers, coaches, advisors, administrators, and support staff.

B. Arrange a conference with the referral teacher and others deemed necessary for that conference to assess that data.

C. Above conference may result in any of the following: a conference with the student and parent, an outreach worker referral, testing, in-patient evaluation, community agency, referral or other mutually agreed upon options.

 Electronic Devices

• Students may have cell phones in school. They must have them turned off while in class.

• Cell phones that take pictures must be left out of the classrooms when testing is taking place.

• They are NOT to be in the building during regular school hours (7:50 AM – 3:39 PM)

• The school will not be responsible for electronic devices left in lockers, coats, book bags, etc.

Locker Searches

 The courts have consistently upheld the claim that school lockers are school property, loaned or rented for the student’s convenience. School authorities may search the student’s locker without warning in seeking contraband, because standing in loco parentis (in place of a parent), school authorities are charged with the safety of all students under their care and supervision. Such a search is not an “illegal” search under the Fourth Amendment to the federal Constitution, but a reasonable exercise of board power in the interests of the health, welfare,, and safety of students.

Courts have reasoned that the school extends locker use to students only for legitimate purposes. School authorities, therefore, have not only the right but also the duty to inspect lockers either periodically or on an ad hoc basis in the interest of making the school a “safe” environment.

The courts have supported the use of trained dogs to conduct searches of lockers and cars in school parking lots. Searching for a person with a trained dog is not as clear. Some courts indicate that a sniff of a person by a trained dog is not a search because it is not intrusive. An individual search of a student by school personnel must be based on reasonable suspicion. See New Jersey v. TLO (1985). If the school has law enforcement involved in the search of students, there should be probable cause to search.

K-9 Inspections

Our school district has a contract with Montana Interquest Detection Canines to conduct periodic inspections of our campus. These inspections will be carried out by a nationally certified canine and handler. These units are specially trained to find contraband items that include illegal drugs, gunpowder-related items, alcoholic beverages, and over-the-counter and prescription medications. Student lockers, classrooms, locker rooms, athletic facilities, commons areas, vehicles, desks, backpacks, and any other articles on school property are subject to inspection.

All inspections will be conducted within the scope of the law and with the knowledge of the student.


If a student skips their detention, the time is doubled.

Backpacks and Purses

 Backpacks are allowed in school with the intent that students may carry school-related books, materials, and their school-issued laptops.

Saturday Detention

Students may be assigned a specific Saturday when instruction addresses inappropriate behaviors. Failure to serve, being tardy, or being asked to leave will result in a two (2) day suspension.


 Students are not to carry any medication in school. If a physician has prescribed medication, it must be taken to the nurse’s office or assigned area. The school will no longer purchase a non-prescription pain reliever for student use at school unless under the direction of the school nurse.  If your child needs a prescription or non-prescription medication, a parent/guardian must come to school and fill out the proper forms. Students are not to carry any medication in school.

Prescription medications must be in a pharmacist-labeled container that specifies the student’s name, prescribing physician’s name, date of the prescription, and directions for use. (Pharmacists will give you an extra-labeled container for school use if you ask for it.)

Non-prescription medications should be in an original bottle or container labelled with the student’s name. (This includes cough drops, cough syrup, aspirin, etc.)


Any student may knowingly or unknowingly become involved in an infraction at some point in time.  The student who is accused of committing an infraction has rights as defined under


 Responses to inappropriate conduct used in the Belle Fourche School District may range from informal conferences to expulsion from school.  Students will be referred to counseling and social work services as appropriate.  It shall be the purpose of such counseling to emphasize the prevention of suspension or expulsion from school.  When suspension or expulsion action is taken, it is the policy of the Belle Fourche District to help prepare the student during the dismissal period for readmission.

 The properties of the school district, particularly the building, equipment, and grounds, shall not be cut, defaced, or damaged by a student.  SDCL 13-32-5 provides that any student who cuts defaces, or otherwise damages any school building or property may be suspended or expelled from school.  Any student who damages destroys or defaces school property or equipment will be responsible for replacement or repair costs.  SDCL 25-5-15 provides that each parent is liable for willful acts of students, which cause damage to real or personal property of the school district or other students, or for any personal injuries caused by the student.

 Staff members, supervisors, aides,, and chaperons have the authority to use reasonable physical force for supervisory control over students.

 SDCL 13-32-7 provides that any person, who carries, possesses, stores, or keeps any type of firearm or air gun on any school premises or in any school vehicle is guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor.


 It is a rule of Belle Fourche High School that hazing activities of any type are inconsistent with the educational process and shall be prohibited at all times.  No administrator, faculty member, or another employee of the school district shall encourage, permit, condone, or tolerate any hazing activities.  No student, including leaders of student organizations,, shall plan, encourage, or engage in any hazing. Permission, consent, or assumption of risk by an individual subjected to hazing does not lessen the prohibition contained in this policy.

 Administrators, faculty members, and all other employees of the school district shall be particularly alert to situations, circumstances, or events that might include hazing.  If hazing or planned hazing is discovered, the involved students shall be required to end all hazing activities immediately and those students will receive 3 - 5 days of out-of-school suspension.

 Prohibition of corporal Punishment

 The use of corporal punishment, defined as "any act of physical force on a pupil for the purpose of punishing that child," is not acceptable in this district and will not be tolerated as a disciplinary measure.

 The term will not apply, however, to the use of reasonable physical force in the following situations:

1.  For self-defense.

2.  To protect the individual or other persons from physical injury.

3.  To protect the property of the school or others.

4. To remove a student who has refused to comply with requests to refrain from disruptive behavior; or

5.  To restrain or control a student that is out of control.

 By law, physical force may be used by the superintendent, principal, supervisor, and teachers and their aides and assistants.  This authority extends to any person delegated to supervise children who are authorized to attend a school function away from school premises and to school bus drivers.

 Any employee using physical force in reference to any of the above situations to control a student will report the incident in writing to his or her supervisor.  Supervisors will keep the superintendent apprised of unusual or extreme incidents of the use of physical force.

Discrimination / Harassment

 The Belle Fourche School District will not tolerate racism, discrimination, harassment, exploitation, or victimization of students, school employees, non-employees, or any persons who are invitees of the Belle Fourche School District based upon race, color, ethnic affiliation, emotional, mental and/or physical challenge, sexual orientation or preference or gender. The Belle Fourche School District is committed to providing an environment free from harassment and other forms of discrimination for students, school employees, and its invites. Such an environment is a necessary part of a healthy learning and working atmosphere because discrimination and/or harassment undermines the sense of human dignity and belonging of all people in the community. The School district includes school facilities, school premises, school vehicles, and non-school vehicles used to transport students, employees and invites to school-sponsored activities (functions) and any other areas where the Belle Fourche School District has control of the premises. 

 In addition, the non-school property is considered district property where school-sponsored or approved functions are being conducted and at locations where a school employee is involved in school business.  Discrimination and/or harassment by board members, administrators, employees, non-employees, invites, parents, caretakers, students, vendors, and others doing business with the school district is prohibited.  Individuals whose behavior is found to be in violation of this policy will be subject to the INVESTIGATION AND ACTION PROCEDURE which will result in disciplinary action as determined by the superintendent or school board and may include suspension, expulsion, reprimand, or termination of employment or in case of non-employees or invites, they will be required to leave school property, or the premises controlled by the Belle Fourche School District. (See Policy ACAA for procedures)


A report of discrimination/harassment and/or an investigation of discrimination/harassment are to be held in strict confidence, except as necessary for the school district, representative of the victim or accused, or any agency of state or federal government charged with enforcement of the policy, to carry out the obligations of this policy subject to state and federal laws with regard to the confidentiality of school records, or constitutional requirements of due process and rights of privacy act provisions.

 The above paragraph does not apply to criminal investigation materials.  Information from a criminal investigation will be released only according to state codified law.


 The Belle Fourche School District prohibits retaliation against any person because that person has verbally or non-verbally asserted, or has assisted another person to verbally or non-verbally assert, a discrimination and/or harassment complaint in either an informal or formal manner with the school or with any state or federal agency, or because that person has testified, assisted or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding or hearing related to a discrimination and/or harassment complaint.  Retaliation is itself a violation of federal and state regulations prohibiting discrimination/harassment and will lead to disciplinary action against the offender.

 A. Generalized Harassment

1. Includes unwelcome behavior directed at an entire group that is based on demeaning or derisive stereotypes which are so pervasive that it creates hostile learning, work, or school activity environment and that is not a part of a discussion or exchange of an idea, ideology or philosophy and disrupts school activities where invites are included, or their human dignity is undermined.

2. Examples include comments/jokes, physical gestures, or visual displays such as posters, etc.

 B. Individually Targeted Harassment

 1. Includes non-criminal behavior which is targeted at an individual or particular member of a group adversely affecting the learning, work,, or school environment, which can be verbal, visual, or physical.

2. Examples include negative or offensive comments, jokes, suggestions, gestures, and/or aggressive physical contact that may be directed to an individual's or group's race, ethnicity, national origin, or gender.

 C. Criminal Harassment

 1. Harassing behavior that violates state or federal criminal statutes.

2. Examples include criminal harassment, criminal assault, sexual assault, sexual contact, attempted rape, criminal mischief, arson, and trespass.

 D. Sexual Harassment

 Unwelcome sexual advances or comments, requests for sexual favors or derogatory sexual remarks, and other unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature if:

 1. submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or simplicity a term or condition of an individual's employment or education; or

2. such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or academic performance; or

3. such conduct has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating hostile or offensive academic, working, or school activity environment.


 Equal Opportunity Title IX-504

The Belle Fourche High School System is a nondiscriminatory institution that offers educational opportunities without regard to sex, race, color, national origin or disability.

 Equal Opportunity Grievance Procedures – Specific allegations of violation may be submitted in writing to Title IX Coordinator, Adam Nowowiejski, 2305 13th Avenue, Phone 723-3359 within thirty (30) days of the grievance. Within five (5) days, the coordinator will evaluate the grievance and render a written decision. Grievances will be discussed with the immediate principal involved and action through the principal with the cooperation of the involved person or persons and the coordinator will ensue. At the discretion of the principal, coordinator, filee or involved person, a formal hearing can be conducted with persons present and with a third uninterested party conducting the proceedings. This will be done within ten (10) days of the initial decision of the coordinator. If there is to be a hearing, all interested parties will be notified by writing as to the time and place. The decision of the coordinator or the decision resulting from the hearing may be appealed within five (5) days after the coordinator’s written decision. The following three steps shall be followed to appeal: a. Principal, b. Superintendent, c. School Board. The School Board will act at its first meeting following the superintendent’s decision. Following each step of appeal, a decision must be rendered within five (5) days.

Correction or recommendation of discrimination practices will begin immediately following a judgment of discrimination. Accurate records of all proceedings, actions, and discussions shall be kept by the coordinator.