NABITA membership has more than doubled over the last year. To help new members implement the NABITA Standards for Behavioral Intervention Teams (BITs), and to provide continuing members with a refresher, NABITA is launching a Tip of the Week series specifically focused on the BIT Standards. Twenty standards, twenty Tips of the Week (maybe more) aimed specifically at the practical application of the BIT Standards (Note: the twenty Tips may not be published consecutively so that NABITA can bring you timely updates regarding other topics).
Standard 5. Team Membership: Teams are comprised of at least 5, but no more than 10 members and should at a minimum include: dean of students and/or vice president of student affairs (principal or assistant principal in K-12), a mental health care employee (adjustment counselor or school psychologist in K-12), a student conduct staff member, and a police/law enforcement officer (school resource officer in K-12).
Institutions must establish BITs that match their unique needs while also ensuring the requisite expertise is present to manage the presenting concerns. Typically, this will include representatives from student affairs, mental and/or physical health, student conduct, and public safety. Human resources should also be represented if the team responds to employees of concern. Depending upon other responsibilities and the essential functions of a BIT member at the institution, the representatives for each of these areas may or may not be department heads. Having this cross-functional group of professionals provides an opportunity for departments to work together and reduce the “silo effect.” All members of the team will play a key role in data gathering, assessment, intervention, and educational outreach.
Practical tip – Structure membership on four levels: core, inner circle, middle circle, and outer circle. Depending on the member’s level, they will have different degrees of responsibility for attending meetings, communication, and database access.
The core members never miss a meeting (and have a designated backup), have full access to the team’s records database, and should have a means for quick communication to the other core members. Some examples of core members may include, the Dean of Students/Principal, Counselor/School Psychologist, Student Conduct staff member/Vice Principal, Case Manager, and Public Safety/School Resource Officer.
The inner circle members are typically at every meeting because they represent a community that is significant to the team and/or the community (e.g., fraternity and sorority life, athletics, residence life). Usually, the inner circle members have full access to the BIT records database. Some examples of inner circle members may include an Academic Dean, Student Activities/Involvement staff member, Disability Support Services staff member, and Residence Life staff member.
Middle circle members participate in the meeting when they have insight into a particular individual or constituency group that is often not a large percentage of the institution’s population. Often, middle circle members have limited to no access to the BIT records database. Some examples of middle circle members may include a Title IX representative or Health Services staff member.
Outer circle members do not participate in the BIT meetings, but core or inner circle members will regularly reach out to them during the data-gathering or intervention phases for assistance. Outer circle members have no database access. Some examples of outer circle members may include a faculty member/teacher, tutor, or academic advisor.
Remember that it is important to build BIT membership around the unique characteristics of the institution. If an institution has a high number of international students, there might be more of a need for a staff member who works directly with that population to be included in the team. Similarly, if the institution does not have residential facilities or very few students live on campus, the frequent touch points for students will look different than they do for a fully residential institution. For more information regarding the role of members based on which circle they are in, click here.
Tim Cason, M.Ed.