Program Descriptions


South Campus is a reclaiming therapeutic environment for boys and girls ages 6 to 21 placed by local school districts.  The children may be emotionally disturbed, behavior disordered, learning disabled, speech and language impaired, mentally impaired, other health impaired, autistic or may have traumatic brain injury.  South Campus provides school, family and community partnerships leading to successful learning.

Classes are small (averaging 8-10 students) with a teacher and an instructional aide.  All staff meets or exceeds Illinois certification requirements.   Students are grouped in age appropriate classes with no more than a four-year span in any one group.  South Campus has two elementary classrooms, one with grades 1-3, and the other with grades 4-5. There are two junior high classes with a combination of grades 6-8.  The elementary and junior high classes are self-contained, offering a standard curriculum of Reading, Spelling, Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and Physical Education.  Each student has an Individual Educational Plan developed by the placing district.

The High School Curriculum parallels the basic offerings of local high school districts.  A variety of classes are available to meet individual student needs (as called for on the IEP) as well as graduation requirements.  These high school classes are departmentalized, which provides an opportunity for the students to rotate to subject specific classrooms throughout the day.

A great deal of extra assistance is provided to help the students make progress in the general curriculum including providing breaks within the classroom, creating instruction with interwoven kinesthetic activities to provide for these children’s need for movement, as well as trained staff in sensory integration techniques in order to proactively disperse the sensory activities throughout the day.

Due to the nature of the students’ needs, a full array of related services is available including Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Art Therapy, Extended Day, Psychiatric and Psychological Consultation and School Health Services. 

Upon enrollment, South Campus staff assesses the student’s functioning in academic, personal and interpersonal skills and provides programming that is developmentally appropriate.  All students have the opportunity to participate in an enrichment class such as Art.

Each student has an individual therapist who sees the student once or twice per week (as delineated on the IEP) and more often if needed.  This therapist is also the primary liaison to the family.  Students also have group therapy, which takes place in the homeroom class with an assigned therapist.  The primary therapists at South Campus also have available the resource of outside program consultants with expertise in a wide variety of issues related to child and adolescent development.  South Campus emphasizes the incorporation of the family in the treatment of the student. This requires that parents/families be available for regular family therapy contact with the South Campus therapist. Therapists are available during the school day and also have evening hours to accommodate families.

The Behavior Management consists of South Campus’ model of the Circle of Courage.  There is a behavior management point system, which provides students with clear, concrete, immediate feedback.  Various privileges and rewards are contingent on the student’s achievement on the behavior management system.  The goal is to use the behavior management systems as a transitory tool towards internalization of new behaviors and skills.  The combination of a concrete behavior management system, a challenging curriculum and the nurturing therapeutic environment enables the students to make educational progress and become ready to move to less restrictive settings.

All staff members are trained in Nonviolent Crisis Intervention, a system of non-violent crisis intervention and de-escalation.  While South Campus does not accept students who are at imminent risk of harming themselves or others, students may occasionally become disruptive or threatening.  At such times, students may be referred to our Behavior Intervention Service.  This is a separate classroom with trained Behavior Intervention Specialists.  Students receive help in crisis intervention, with access to their therapist and additional counseling related to solving the behavioral problem and returning to class.

The school day is 8:30am to 2:30pm on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.  Thursday hours are 8:30am to 1:30pm.  Students are transported to and from school by their public school district.  Students are provided a well-balanced hot lunch each day.  Students are met at the bus/cab each morning by South Campus staff and again escorted back to the bus/cab at the end of the day.

Referrals can be made directly to South Campus Principal, Tom Dempsey, or Assistant Principal, Jessica Edward.  Tuition is paid by the local public school district according to the rate set by the Illinois Purchased Care Review Board.


The SEDOL Diagnostic Program at South Campus is an alternative educational setting designed to provide individualized programming within the framework of an academic and therapeutic environment.  When a student’s current placement is seemingly not meeting his or her emotional, behavioral, or psychiatric needs, the school district and parents may be in agreement that an alternative placement is necessary for a temporary time period to further assess the student’s educational needs. The student can be a regular education student needing an alternative placement while undergoing an Initial Case Study Evaluation, or it can be a Special Education Student needing an alternative placement while undergoing a reevaluation.  In either case, the student would receive these evaluations along with the individual, group, and family counseling traditionally offered at South Campus.   The Diagnostic placement is a 60 school day program.  At the end of those 60 days, a staffing is held to review all of the diagnostic data and observations.  Special education eligibility will be discussed; if a student is found eligible for special education services, an individualized education plan (IEP) will be created, or the existing IEP will be modified as needed.  Placement options will also be discussed.  If the student is not found eligible for special education services, a plan for the student’s transition back into mainstream classes will be formulated. Referrals can be made directly to South Campus Diagnostic Coordinator, Dr. Caitlin McGowan.

SEDOL has also contracted with South Campus to provide a placement option for students who require an interim alternative educational setting (IAES).  An IAES is required whenever a student has been involved in a behavioral infraction, leading to his/her expulsion from the home school district.  Continuation of services is mandated at the time of an expulsion.  The IAES program at The South Campus will 1) enable the student to continue participating in his/her general academic curriculum; 2) enable the student to continue receiving services and modifications listed in his/her IEP; and 3) include services and modifications designed to address the behavior that led to the disciplinary action.  This placement will include Case Study Reevaluation components, updated behavioral, therapeutic, and academic observations, and intensive therapeutic interventions for the student and his/her family.  This IAES placement is a 45 school day program.  At the end of those 45 days, a staffing will be held to discuss the reevaluation, update the IEP, plan for the student’s transition back to their prior educational placement, and/or discuss other appropriate placement options. Referrals can be made directly to South Campus Diagnostic Coordinator, Dr. Caitlin McGowan.

Both the Diagnostic and IAES programs are a unique combination of academic and therapeutic services presented in a highly individualized manner so that the needs of each student can be met most effectively.  Students enrolled in both of these programs intermingle in classrooms with a minimum of ten students and at least two teaching staff to ensure the maximum amount of one-on-one support. 

The staff within the Diagnostic and IAES programs believes that all students can learn and be successful.  Through the development of supportive and nurturing relationships, our staff enables students to make academic progress and learn the skills necessary to succeed.  A primary goal is to allow students to understand their own behavior - how it affects their interpersonal relationships, and opportunities for success.  Students are encouraged to learn new, more appropriate ways of interacting in order to get their needs met.  With guidance from faculty, students focus on and evaluate their behaviors as being supportive, or non-supportive, or their desired outcomes.  Problems that may arise during classroom activities are seen as opportunities for growth and learning.  Our staff utilizes a cognitive/behavioral and narrative problem solving approach to help students identify the challenge and practice more successful behavioral alternatives.  While students may experience the logical consequences to problematic behavior, the approach is always positive and non-punitive.  We do not encourage the use of isolation, physical restraint or other aversive interventions unless needed to ensure the safety of the student and school milieu.  Instead, we utilize effective social skill building and creative behavior modification techniques designed to help each student develop strategies to improve his/her educational performance.

The behavior management policies of the Diagnostic and IAES programs are highly individualized, using both anticipated and actual behavior problems as positive teaching opportunities.  A consistent cognitive restructuring is used to help the student learn the skills and behaviors necessary to succeed in the school environment.  When problematic behaviors arise during the school day, our staff will work with the student in identifying alternative ways in which the situation could have been handled.  At times, students may persist in disruptive and/or disturbing behaviors.  When this occurs, staff will make every effort to remove the immediate stressor from the situation.  If a student is deemed to be a possible threat to his/her own safety, or the safety of others, therapeutic holding and restraint may be necessary to ensure the safety of all involved.  Our staff is fully trained in the Crisis Prevention Institute guidelines of such intervention.

Students enrolled in the SEDOL contractual programs experience highly individualized instructional support.  Our teaching staff works closely with the home school districts to ensure that students continue earning appropriate academic credit.  Each district is asked to provide a current course listing, which is facilitated within the Diagnostic or IAES programs in one of two ways: 1) Home districts may provide their own textbooks and curriculum for students to use; 2) Districts may request that their student follow the curriculum all ready in place within the framework of South Campus.  With either option, the primary objective is to help students earn the maximum amount of credit possible, bringing them closer to the ultimate goal of high school graduation.

Individual Therapy
Therapeutic services are an integral part of your student’s stay in the Diagnostic or IAES program at South Campus.  Each student is assigned to an individual therapist, who will meet with him/her at least twice per week.  These sessions will focus on a wide variety of issues, including the presenting issue/concern, increasing levels of self-awareness, problem solving, communication, and relationship skills.  The individual therapist will also complete a Social-Developmental History with each student and his/her family, as part of the Case Study Evaluation/Reevaluation.

Group Therapy
Group therapy is provided 3 times per week in the Diagnostic and IAES programs.  These sessions are designed to address specific topics such as anger management, relationship issues, relaxation skills, interpersonal communication.

Family Therapy
Family work is seen as an essential component in your child’s placement in the Diagnostic/IEAS programs.  The individual therapist assigned to your child will expect to meet with you at least once per month.  Primary goals include completion of the Social/Developmental History, improving communication and listening skills between family members, identifying mutual goals and accompanying plan for success, and any other specific concerns you feel would be helpful to address in family sessions.  In addition, a monthly Parent Support Group is offered to all families, within the Diagnostic/IAES programs and South Campus.  This can serve as a valuable outlet, allowing you to talk with other parents/guardians struggling with similar challenges and receive support and guidance from South Campus’s therapeutic staff.

Parent Group
Parent group is an opportunity for parents, caregivers and our Clinical team to come together for a night of learning, sharing and listening. We discuss a wide variety of topics variety such as, Behavior management, Social emotional development, Psychiatric disorders (e.g. ADHD, Bi-Polar, Anxiety, etc), Community resources, Question and answer sessions with a Child/Adolescent Psychiatrist, Question and answer session with our certified Addictions counselor and much more.

We offer our Parent Group every month on the third Wednesday of the month. Each meeting is 90 min. We provide a light dinner (e.g. pizza or sandwiches) and FREE BABYSITTING. Please feel free to bring not only your South Campus student but their siblings as well. All we ask is that you RSVP with the number of children you are bringing. Please do this via calling or emailing your child’s therapist or teacher or writing on the home note. We want to make sure that we have enough staff on hand to cover the child care needs.

Art Therapy
All students attend a weekly Art Therapy group with their class.  The Art Therapist uses Art as a therapeutic medium for self expression, creativity and as a source of self esteem.  The Art Therapist is a member of the clinical team and collaborates with the psychotherapists and other related service faculty.  There are also provisions for additional Individual Art Therapy sessions as needed.  We also offer Art as a for-credit class for high school students needing a fine arts credit.

Substance Abuse Counseling
All adolescent students undergo an initial substance use screening to determine the degree of their exposure and/or involvement with drugs or alcohol.  Individual addictions counseling and substance abuse education groups are also available to any students identified with this challenge.  The substance abuse counselor is an integral member of the clinical team and collaborates with the teachers, therapists and outside agencies.

Other services available in these programs include:

  1. Speech/Language Therapist
  2. Psychiatric Consultation and Evaluation
  3. Occupational/Physical Therapy
  4. Certified School Nurse on premises daily

Our school community is based upon mutual respect, cooperation, and generosity.  Positive behaviors such as politeness, thoughtful listening, participating in the classroom or group, ignoring negative influences from peers, and remaining on task will be rewarded with incentives that are meaningful to each individual student.

Inappropriate, negative, or otherwise disruptive behaviors will be addressed as immediately as possible and will bear “natural consequences”, individually tailored for each student, according to his/her specific needs and learning style.

Dress Code 
Students are expected to dress in ways that bring pride to themselves and the school community.  Articles of clothing displaying alcohol or drug related advertising; obscene or suggestive slogans; signs/colors/manner of wearing clothing that could be gang-related; hats; hooded sweatshirts, and any clothing deemed to be disruptive to the educational process are all prohibited.  Students will be asked to turn clothing inside out, change, or remove certain items.

Alcohol or Drug Possession and/or Use      
Students are expected to be free from the effects of illicit drugs or alcohol use while in attendance in the Diagnostic and IAES programs.  If it is suspected that a student is under the influence, or is suspected of possessing an illegal substance, the following options are available to our staff:

  1. Removal of the student from the classroom.
  2. Having the school nurse assess vital signs to further determine level of intoxication.
  3. Notification of parents to pick the student up from school.
  4. Notification of police if illegal substance is found.
  5. Notification to home school district, with request for “re-entry” meeting to discuss possible consequences and needed interventions.
  6. Referral to substance abuse program for assessment/evaluation

Students are expected to be in attendance every school day. 

Excused Absences: A parent or legal guardian must call the school office, explaining the illness or other reasons for absence, by 9:00am.  Students are not allowed to call themselves in. 

Unexcused Absences: Any day a student is not in attendance and the above has not been adhered to.  The home school district will be notified, and school officials will initiate contacts with truancy personnel if the absences become excessive. 

All students are provided door-to-door transportation by their home school districts.  All Diagnostic and IAES program policies and behavioral expectations are in full effect while your child is on this transportation.  Our school staff works closely with the transportation companies, and has daily communication with the drivers to ensure that students are behaving appropriately and are adhering to all mandatory safety guidelines.  Students must wear their seat belts at all times while on the bus or cab.

A case study evaluation is a series of in-depth multidisciplinary diagnostic procedures conducted within an established time frame and designed to provide information about your child and the nature of the problems that may affect his/her educational development.  These components may include the following:

  1. Psychological testing, including analysis of intelligence, achievement, social/emotional status, and personality functioning;
  2. Classroom observations and teacher’s report on academic progress
  3. Social/Developmental History
  4. Therapeutic Summary
  5. Psychiatric Evaluation (if deemed necessary)
  6. Substance use screening and/or evaluation
  7. Vision/Hearing screening and other reviews of relevant health history
  8. Assessment of communication status and motor abilities if needed

The nature and intensity of each component to be included will vary depending on the needs of your child and the type of existing information available.  Upon completion of your child’s case study evaluation/reevaluation, a staffing will be scheduled with you, the home district, staff from the Diagnostic/IAES programs, and any other relevant professionals to discuss the findings and determine eligibility for special education and related services. 

There are several official categories under which a child may be found eligible for special education and related services support.  These include physical conditions, emotional or behavioral problems, or learning disabilities.  Some of the more common eligibility categories, and accompanying qualifications, are listed below.  (Please note this is not an exhaustive list).

Emotional Disability
A diagnosis of emotional disability means that the child exhibits one or more of the following characteristics to a marked degree and over an extended period of time:

  1. difficulties in learning that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health impairments;
  2. problems relating to children and adults;
  3. inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances;
  4. a general mood of unhappiness and depression;
  5. a tendency to develop physical symptoms, pains, or fears associated with personal or social problems.

There should be evidence that the child’s behavior is not the result of a temporary reaction to home, school, or community situations.

Other Health Impaired (OHI)
Your child may be found eligible under this category if there is a medically diagnosed physical or physiological condition, including but not limited to, a seizure disorder, asthma, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or diabetes, which may create challenges to educational success.  It must be determined that the disability interferes with your child’s ability to function at school using the traditional instructional materials and techniques. 

A child with a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD is not automatically eligible for special education services.  If your child diagnosed with ADD or ADHD meets the requirement(s) under OHI or one of the other disability categories, he/she may be eligible for special education and related services.  A special conference would be necessary to determine your child’s specific disability.  Students with ADD or ADHD who do not meet the eligibility criteria of any of the specified disabilities may be entitled to the services and legal protections described in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  Section 504 was the first federal Civil Rights Law to protect the rights of people with disabilities.  It prohibits discrimination in:

  1. The education of students with disabilities
  2. Vocational education programs
  3. College programs and other post-secondary education programs
  4. Employment
  5. Health, welfare, and other social service programs
  6. Other programs and activities that receive federal funds.

Section 504 requires an evaluation to determine whether or not your child meets the eligibility criteria.  If found eligible, the school district is required to provide an appropriate education.  This may mean modifying the regular education program and providing any necessary supportive services (e.g., reducing the amount of required work, completing fewer assignments in a shorter period of time, providing more visual instruction, and/or developing behavioral interventions).

Specific Learning Disability (SLD)
A child with a learning disability may have a disorder in one or more of the processes needed to receive, understand, or express information.  As a result, the child may have difficulty in one or more of the following:

  1. Basic reading skills
  2. Reading comprehension
  3. Written expression
  4. Math calculation
  5. Listening comprehension
  6. Oral expression

Children with learning disabilities show a significant difference between their measured abilities and achievement.  The learning disability, then, is not primarily due to a physical, mental, or emotional disability, nor to environmental, cultural, or economic factors. 

WHAT IS AN IEP?         
The individualized education program (IEP) is a written document describing how special education and related services will be provided for eligible students.  The IEP describes your child and what the school will do to give your child the extra support and attention needed.  Since parents are part of the team that helps to write IEPs for their children, it is important that you know what they consist of.  

Your child’s IEP must include the following things:

  1. Present level of educational performance
  2. Annual Goals
  3. Progress toward annual goals and how parent(s) will be informed of progress
  4. Specific special education, related services, supplementary aids and services, and a statement of program modifications or supports for school personnel
  5. Beginning date, amount, frequency, location and anticipated duration of services and modifications
  6. Extent of participation in regular education programs
  7. Language(s) or mode(s) of communication
  8. Participation in assessments
  9. Placement
  10. Extended school year services

The IEP is created at an IEP meeting, or “staffing”.  Participants at this meeting typically include:

  1. Parents/guardians
  2. The student
  3. Regular education teacher or special education teacher, depending on the student’s background
  4. A representative of the local school district
  5. An individual who can interpret the results of any psychological testing/evaluation if needed
  6. A representative of any other agency that may be responsible for providing supportive services
  7. Any other professionals invited at your discretion
  8. Representatives from possible placement options

During the staffing, the team discusses the student’s current levels of academic and behavioral performance.  Specific strengths and challenge areas are identified.  If your child is over the age of 14, a transition plan is discussed, exploring goals for after high school graduation.  Primary therapeutic and academic goals are written, to serve as a framework for guiding instructional and support services through the next year.  These goals are monitored and evaluated at predetermined intervals to ensure that progress towards these goals is achieved.  Related service areas that will help support achievement of yearly goals, such as individual, group, and family therapy, psychiatric consultation, and vocational assessments are identified.  Specific accommodations or modifications in presentation of academic tasks are outlined, to ensure that your child receives an equal opportunity to complete all necessary requirements.  Finally, the team discusses what would be the most appropriate and least restrictive environment in which these services and goals can be facilitated.

Your child must be provided an education in the least restrictive environment (LRE).  This means that to the greatest degree appropriate, any student with a disability aged 3 through 21, in public or private institutions or other care facilities, is educated with children who are not disabled.  Any separation of a student from the regular education environment (e.g., special classes, separate schooling) should take place only if the student’s IEP team determines that the nature and/or severity of the student’s disability is such that education in a regular classroom setting, even with the use of supplemental aids and services, cannot be achieved satisfactorily.  Federal regulations require that the IEP team’s first placement consideration should be a regular education setting with accommodations or modifications.  However, this may not always be the most appropriate setting for your child.

Educational placement decisions are based on your child’s needs and may include the following locations.  (Please note this is not an exhaustive list).

  • Regular Education – your child receives specially designed instruction with supplementary aids and services in the general education classroom.
  • Regular Education with Social Work Support – your child receives additional support from a social worker/counselor within the school setting for therapy sessions.
  • Resource Room (Special Class) – your child receives specially designed instruction through a special education class, while staying included in regular classes as much as possible.
  • Self-Contained Room (Special Class) – your child receives specially designed instruction in a special education class, while remaining in those parts of regular education classes, with support, where appropriate. 
  • Alternative Educational Setting – your child receives specially designed instruction in a special school.  These can be either public or private therapeutic day schools.
  • Residential Programs – your child receives specially designed instruction in a special school and lives on the grounds of that same school.

The South Campus Extended Day Program is an answer to the need for innovative and progressive services for seriously emotionally disturbed children.  The Extended Day Program represents best practices, is cost effective, promotes the concept of least restrictive environment and is designed to eliminate the need for more restrictive placement.

Many students who struggle with severe emotional and behavioral challenges (EBD) are referred for more restrictive placement due to the lack of community based resources to provide educational services which will enable these students to make progress in the general curriculum.  Because these students cannot achieve stability at more traditional options on the educational continuum, they are often referred to far more restrictive placement options which remove them from their homes, their families and their communities.

Students in need of residential placement have demonstrated the need for therapeutic services outside of the traditional school day (8:30 AM- 2:30 PM) in order to make them available for educational services during the regular school day.  The Extended Day Program at South Campus offers the same kinds of services from 2:30 to 6:30 PM as are offered at effective residential treatment centers.

Many studies have indicated that the hours of the day that “at risk” students experience the most severe difficulty are 3 to 6 PM Mondays through Fridays.  The structured Extended Day Program at South Campus addresses those needs.

Students eligible for the Extended Day Program are those considered by their school district to be at risk for a more restrictive placement.  They need academic support and enrichment, skilled therapeutic services as well as recreational, pre-vocational and support services.

Students referred to the South Campus Extended Day Program are boys and girls between the ages of 6 and 21.  Appropriate class groupings (no more than a four year span) are maintained at all times.  These students have been identified by their local school districts as having a primary disability of:

  • emotional and behavioral disorder
  • other health impairment
  • traumatic brain injury
  • learning disabilities
  • mental impairment 
  • autism

The students may also have secondary disabilities in the above areas.

Classes are small with no more than 10 students to a group.  Upon enrollment, the staff assesses the student’s functioning and provides academic, clinical and behavioral programming that is developmentally appropriate.  Each student has an IEP (Individual Educational Program) developed by the placing school district.  Each IEP indicates the student’s needs, goals, program components, behavior intervention plan and related services required to meet the desired outcome.  Students are only enrolled in the Extended Day Program when specified on the IEP by the school district.

In the Extended Day Program at South Campus, students attend school from 8:30 AM to 6:30 PM.  During the traditional school hours (8:30 to 2:30) they are grouped with age appropriate peers who may or may not be participating in the Extended Day Program.  During the traditional school day, students engage in an academically challenging curriculum that emphasizes group instruction and hands-on activities.  The problems that may arise during classroom activities are seen as opportunities for growth.  The staff uses a cognitively oriented, problem solving approach to help the students overcome the problems at hand and practice more successful behaviors.  While students may experience the logical consequences of their problematic behavior, the approach is always positive and non punitive.  South Campus does not endorse the use of time-out rooms, physical restraint or other aversive interventions.  All staff are trained in Crisis Prevention and Intervention.  The students have a structured behavior management system, based on the Circle of Courage to help them develop strategies to improve their performance.

At 2:30 PM, after the other students depart for home, the Extended Day students gather for a social skills group during which a snack is provided.  Students then do homework.  After homework, students engage in a variety of academic, therapeutic, leisure, cultural, vocational and artistic activities.  Opportunities for individual counseling are available.

The behavior management system is the same as is used during the regular school day.  The system provides the students with clear, concrete and immediate feedback..  Various rewards and privileges can be achieved by success on the behavior management plan.  The goal is to help the students internalize new skills and behaviors.

All staff are trained in Crisis Prevention and Intervention, a system of non-violent crisis prevention, intervention and de-escalation.  Students can receive additional individual counseling as necessary to prevent disruptive or aggressive behavior.  All staff have the proper credentials for their job duties.

Students are transported to and from school by their public school district.  They are met at the bus in the morning and escorted back to the bus in the evening.

The full school day is 8:30 AM to 6:30 PM.  South Campus and the public school district work together to determine which related services are provided during the regular school day and which are provided in the expended portion of the day.

Referrals can be made directly to Tom Dempsey, Principal or Jessica Edward, Assistant Principal.  Tuition is paid by the local school district according to the rate set by the Illinois Purchased Care Review Board.