District School Psychologist/Behaviorist

     Melanie A. Montenora

               ext. 13641


    The district behaviorist:

    • provides support to students in which behaviors may impede their learning process
    • work directly with school staff, families and students to establish a positive learning environment that promotes a high level of achievement for a diverse population of students across the district




    Any parent whose child exhibits challenging behaviors naturally wants to find a solution to the problem. Parents want to put an end to the misbehavior so that the child can learn to better acclimate him or herself in public settings; they want their child to respect teachers and the learning process so that they can receive the education they need. Teachers want to help their students find success and meet or exceed their potential as a learner.

    Put simply, teachers want to know how can these behaviors be reduced or stopped and parents want to know how they can get their child to behave. Before those questions can be answered, however, there is another question that must be explored: What is the cause of this misbehavior?

    With the help of school staff (teachers, counselors, principal, ect.), parents, and the student, I will conduct what is known as a behavioral assessment in order to answer that question. Once we have worked together to identify the cause of the challenging behavior, then we can begin to develop strategies and techniques to change the behaviors to positive interactions that will promote success in the classroom.


    NYS Policy Brief on FBA's

    When you think about the way a child often behaves you most likely consider it to be "bad." A behavioral assessment looks deeper than this cursory interpretation. It asks the question: what function is misbehavior serving for the child?


    A functional behavioral assessment is a five step process:                                                 

    1. The first step is the data collection phase. During this phase, the child is observed and the observer (usually a paraprofessional) documents the antecedent (the action that precedes the misbehavior) and the consequence (the action that follows the misbehavior). This documentation occurs over a period of several days or weeks in order to discover why this misbehavior is a regular occurrence. Several factors such as setting, time of day, and task, will be considered over the during this process in order to determine whether or not that is a factor leading to the child's behavioral tendencies.
    2. The second step is the interview/observation phase. As part of the behavioral assessment, I will interview the child's parents, teachers, and the student to gather important background information. A formal classroom observation is conducted.
    3. The third step is the analysis stage. Using all of the information gathered through observation and review of data, an idea of why the behavior occurs is stated. This helps predict where and why the problem behaviors are most and least likely to occur.
    4. The fourth and last step is the plan stage. The educational team comes together (parents, administration, teachers, support staff, behaviorist, psychologist, counselor) and reviews the FBA. As a team, using the information from the FBA and input from members from the team, a behavior plan is created which identifies behaviors that can be taught, reinforced, rewarded, and supported within the school and that provide the child with positive alternatives to the problem behavior(s).
    5. The plan is put in place and recommendations for progress monitoring are discussed. The plan is continuously reviewed and updated as needed.

    Truly understanding why a child behaves the way he or she does is the vital step to developing strategies to stop the behavior.

    PLEASE NOTE:  It is important to know that a positive Behavior Intervention Plan is NOT a plan to determine what happens to a student who violates a school/district rule or code of conduct.  For specific information about the Valley Central Code of Conduct, please see VC Code of Conduct


     How does a child get a FBA?

    A recommendation for a behavioral assessment is not automatic.  While each child can benefit from behavioral supports, a functional behavioral assessment is an intensive, individualized, and time-consuming process.  School staff must first meet to discuss the nature of the child’s behaviors and attempt to address the behaviors utilizing classroom management techniques and building level supports.  If the child has an IEP, the CSE team can meet, review the behavioral concerns and determine the need for an FBA. If the child does not have an IEP, the building IST will meet and propose interventions.  If ineffective at addressing the behavior, a functional behavior assessment recommendation is submitted to the Office of Special Education.

     What is a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP)?

    Once the function of the behaviors have been clearly identified through the FBA, a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) may be recommended. The BIP is an intervention plan created to reduce and ultimately replace the target behavior based on what that behavior serves.  The plan must be specific and clearly stated, including the persons responsible for implementing interventions, rewards, or measurement of the intervention. The interventions will focus on teaching the student new skills and more acceptable behavior.  Changes in the environment, delivery of school based support, intrinsic or extrinsic reinforcements, or management interventions are generally a part of the plan.  A Functional Behavioral Assessment and the Behavior Intervention Plan can be used for both general education and special education students.

    NYS Policy Brief on BIP's