Student Assistance Process

Student Assistance Process – A Problem Solving Approach

This process provides a framework and philosophy for assisting students whose educational performance and /or behavior seem to be interfering with academic progress. This procedure is designed for use by all staff who, after making the normal day-to-day adjustments in the student’s learning materials and environment, determines that their efforts have not been successful in helping the student.

The Student Assistance Process is a philosophy as well as a set of guidelines for addressing student concerns and needs. The premise of this process and our work as educators is that we have the responsibility of providing service to ALL students. This process is designed to provide support for students who are experiencing difficulties in the classroom as well as for staff members who are working to assist students to become successful in the regular educational environment.

There will be variations on parts of the process (i.e., formation of student assistance teams) based on educational level (elementary, middle, high school) and unique building needs. The fact that this process is a problem-solving process needs to be kept in the forefront of our thoughts as we work with students.

By following the process, the staff member is using a teaming approach to problem-solving. In this team, teachers, parents, administrators and support service personnel work together to design the most appropriate educational program for the student. The district recognizes that in some instances a direct referral to special education or 504 may be necessary outside the SAT process.

Parents: Defined as both natural and adoptive parents and legal guardians and/or surrogate parents.

Four Basic Assumptions Underlying the Student Assistance Process:

  1. Students assisted by this process are currently in a school program.
  2. The regular classroom and curricula are the frame of reference for this process.
  3. A staff member is designated at each building to coordinate the process.
  4. There may be behavioral situations involving a student which may necessitate omitting the earlier steps of this process. Behavior serious enough to warrant short-term suspension maybe sufficient reason for omitting the first few steps of this process. If a student is suspended out of school, due process procedures must be followed.

Role of Parents

It is the responsibility of school staff to communicate progress to parents, solicit their participation and suggestions and take any other steps necessary for parental involvement early and often in the process.

Unique Characteristics of Students

Some students may have unique characteristics (e.g., non-English speaking, non-oral communication, limited hearing/vision, minority group membership, special health concerns) which may necessitate special adjustments in the procedures. The Student Assistance Team must consider these effects as they assist schools.

Examples of Reasons for Student Assistance Process Referrals:

  1. Students exhibiting academic concerns.
  2. Students exhibiting behavior concerns in the classroom.
  3. Students exhibiting behavior concerns during unstructured times, i.e., passing time, lunch time, recess, before/after school.
  4. Chronic attendance concerns.
  5. Students referred for special education evaluation, but found not to qualify.
  6. Students dismissed from a special education program.
  7. ELL students having problems adjusting to school expectations.
  8. Students suspended from school.

Referrals can be generated by teachers, administrators, parents, and counselors. Student Assistance documentation should be included in the student’s cumulative files.

For More Information

For more information contact an administrator or counselor at your school or contact the Office of Student Services at 436-1688 or download the tri-fold leaflet:

STUDENT ASSISTANCE PROCESS (SAP) – A Guide for Parents and Students

Note: Steps 1-5 meet the requirements for the Student Assistant Team as outlined by Rule 51, Nebraska Department of Education.

Students that do not qualify for special education programs after initial assessments and previously verified school-age children who no longer qualify for special education services after evaluation must be referred to an appropriate student assistance team by the multidisciplinary team to facilitate that student’s movement from special education to general education (NDE, Rule 51). Staff should review Integrated Assessment Report recommendations that are to be implemented in the regular classroom. The members of the Student Assistance Team are to be regular classroom teachers and support staff members and would not necessarily be the same members as the Multidisciplinary Assessment Team. The SAT members are to operate in the best interest of the student.

The Student Assistance Process also provides the framework under which the Lincoln Public Schools will comply with the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504. Section 504 protects persons from discrimination based on their disability status. A person is disabled under Section 504 if he or she: 1. has a mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or more of such person’s major life activities; 2. has a record of such impairment; or is regarded as having such impairment. Major life activities include functions such as caring for self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working. When a condition does not substantially limit a major life activity or does not negatively impact educational activities, the individual does not qualify under Section 504. Section 504 services are the responsibility of the regular education program.


Ryan Zabawa
Director, Student Services | 402-436-1651

P.O. Box 82889
Lincoln, Nebraska 68501