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Student Assistance Counselor (SAC)

Mission Statement

The Paterson Public Schools Student Assistance Department, in partnership with the Paterson community, seeks to ensure that all students are free of drug, alcohol and tobacco use and reach their maximum potential by providing: education, prevention, intervention counseling, staff development and treatment referrals, thereby improving academic achievement and ensuring we are “Working Together to Achieve Success for Every Child”.

Student Assistance Coordinator (SAC) job responsibilities

The Student Assistance Coordinator (SAC) job responsibilities are based upon the NJ DOE law: Comprehensive ATOD (Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug) Programs, NJSA 18A:40, NJAC 6A:16-3.1.

Since 1987, the SAC job has evolved to include the coordination of all activities to ensure that their school district is in the compliance with the aforementioned law and to coordinate and implement education, prevention and intervention programming for students at-risk of academic failure. Still driven by the NJSA 18A, the SAC job has also evolved to include the coordination of all prevention and intervention activities related to violence, HIV/AIDS and mental health issues which are intricately intertwined with student and family ATOD issues.

The Paterson Public School District employs Student Assistance Coordinators who provide expertise in the following areas regarding substance abuse and related issues:

  • Family or school problems
  • Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs
  • Anger management
  • Bullying/Cyber bullying
  • Child Abuse and Neglect
  • Community Resources
  • Domestic Violence/Relationship Issues
  • Depression/Mental Health Awareness
  • Eating Disorders
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Gang and Violence Prevention
  • Grief and Loss
  •  HIV and Aids
  • Peer Mediation/Conflict Resolution
  • Self-Esteem
  • Self-Injury
  • Sexual Abuse/Sexual Harassment
  • Suicide

Student Referrals

A student may request services on his/her own or be referred by a teacher, any other staff member or by his/her parent. There is a referral form that can be obtained from the building Student Assistance Coordinator. Once a student is referred, a careful assessment of his/her needs is performed and recommendations made to the student and parent.

Student Drug Testing

If a student is suspected of being under the influence for alcohol/drugs, in possession or distribution of a controlled dangerous substance (including paraphernalia) or a counterfeit controlled substance, the student must have a medical examination/drug screening and breathalyzer test immediately. A positive result, failure to comply with the testing procedures or tampering with the specimen (refusal) will be considered an automatic positive and requires and immediate assessment/evaluation by a licensed clinician before the student returns to school N.J.S.A. 18A: 40A-12; N.J.A.C. 6A: 16-4. 1(c)2. The licensed clinician will recommend a treatment plan for the student to follow.

The referral process is not a disciplinary one but rather a means to identify at-risk students in order to provide them with the appropriate services.


All Paterson Public School Student Assistance Coordinators are well versed in federal confidentiality law (42 CFR Part 2). The coordinators & the schools respect the students and their families’ right to privacy at all times.