Chariho School Parents’ Forum

Analysis – RYSE

I’ve decided to devote a permanent page to the RYSE program, obviously as a reaction to the information  and misinformation presented at the May 22nd meeting.  As Bill Day said, there were a lot of “discrepancies.” 

At this meeting, the board approved a contract for mental health services for the RYSE School.  We did not send this contract out for bid. 

Elaine Morgan, parent of a RYSE student, tried to testify on the services we were voting to purchase.  Bill Day, chair of the school board, ended the conversation after she told us that RYSE “forced” her to drop the clinical service from South Shore (funded by United Health Insurance) and utilize the services at RYSE (funded by the taxpayers). 

The reason she was denied the right to speak, according to Mr. Day, was because the Director of Special Education, Kathy Perry, disagreed with her testimony.  Thus the “discrepancies.”

The purpose of this website has always been to increase transparency and community involvement.  I will provide you with the same information that I have (with scans of related documents) and you can evaluate these discrepancies for yourself.  Hopefully, you will be encouraged to get involved. 

For more details, Chariho has written minutes of the meeting and a video tape.  They are both open to the public.  But please don’t expect them to make copies of the tape (we didn’t budget for this).   Maybe watch it there or obtain a copy from Cox.  Chariho should be able to provide the contact person.

Lets step back and  review how we got to this point.  Here is a brief outline and history of the RYSE program and the no-bid contract the board approved –


In 2003, Chariho developed the RYSE School.  Before RYSE was developed, students who needed professional services were sent to various service providers in the community. 

According to documentation provided, these service providers were Bradley (South Kingstown & East Providence), South Shore Mental Health (Charlestown) and Forwardview (North Kingstown).

Some students were given a variety of services by a collaboration of agencies.  As an example, a student could go to Bradley for “day program” services (funded by school budget, ie. taxpayers) and at the same time receive clinical and/or evaluation services from South Shore Mental Health (insurance funded) and also get diabetes treatment at the local hospital (insurance funded).

RYSE was developed to provide all of the services “in-house.”  We still integrate in the community but the services are provided by RYSE staff.

I would assume there are some services we don’t supply yet but we have recently added the “Autism Spectrum Disorder” program, and the ”Elementary At-Risk” program.  We also now provide diabetes treatments. 

I have been open about my concerns over the RYSE School.  RYSE is advertised as providing “twenty four hour a day/seven day a week mental health services” for students “from other districts” with “serious mental and emotional health issues.”  

My concerns include:
1) I don’t think we should get into the “mental health services” business.
2) If we are in it, are we doing it efficiently and effectively?
3) the treatment model we use (MST) is designed for “serious, violent, and chronic juvenile offenders.”   We are the only school in RI that has a program designed for this population.  If DCYF wanted to relocate a group home, our district and community would be a likely location.  Furthermore, Chariho policy allows “out of districtplacements into RYSE with board approval. 

In 2003 the board approved the development of the RYSE School (note – there is some debate as to whether the development of this program without voter approval was a violation of the Chariho Act).  

But Chariho did it and now they needed to find someone to provide all of these services (all the services previously provided by the above list of community providers) and advertised for these services with this Request for Proposals (RFP). 

We received 2 bids :

South Shore Mental Health Center, Charlestown-RI, bid $276,000 and uses the community based model.   This model utilizes a collaboration of services in the community and is designed for a variety of populations.

Psychological Centers, Inc., (PC does not have a website) bid $420,000 and uses the multisystemic (MST) model.  This model provides “in-house” all  inclusive services and the program was designed for “serious, violent, and chronic juvenile offenders.”  

Here are what I see as the major differences between the two service providers.

Psychological Centers Inc. (PC),
1)     has been in business since 2000,
2)     is located in Middletown (outside of our district)
is an agency that utilizes a system designed for “serious, violent, and chronic juvenile offenders” 
4)      the treatment model has never been used in a school before. 
5)      this model does everything “in-house” and subsequently completely funded by taxpayers 
6)      the treatment model research supporting its efficacy is cited in the bid, “the strongest and most consistent support (comes from studies) focused on violent and chronic juvenile offenders.”  I should also preface this by saying that MST Group, LLC., was the developer of the MST model and is also the licensing agency.  They are not a government entity and the certification is not a government (federal or state) certification.

South Shore Mental Health Center (SSMH),
1)      has  been in business since 1964,
2)      is located in Charlestown (in our district)
3)      this treatment model was not designed for a specific population.
4)      we had already done business with SSMH for 7 years
5)      utilized a community collaboration (rather than soup-to-nuts “in-house” services) that allowed insurance to pay for some services.
6)      the treatment model is supported by research cited in the bid.  

UPDATE: May 24 

The Chariho school committee voted to accept the $420,000 bid.

I will explain how we get from there to Tuesday’s no-bid contract soon, but the “real world” has been keeping me busy.  In the mean time, here is the 2007 contract the Chariho school committee voted to accept. 

The RYSE School – Psychological Centers Inc., “No-Bid Contract, 2007

more to come…. 

 PS.  There were 8 other board members present at the meeting (Giancarlo Cicchetti and Holly Eaves were not present).  5 voted for the no-bid contract.  I know you visit the website.  Please post your comments or questions below in the “comments” section.



  1. My concern is that once a child is labeled ’special needs’ it is very difficult within the school system to solve the problem and unlabel the child. All children have special needs but these are generally handled by loving parents and compassionate friends, neighbors and others – and the child generally outgrows these ’special’ difficulties.

    I am sure there are children who are seriously and continually needful – serious autism, bi-polar, severe depression, schizophrenia, etc. These children are due the services the parents can provide (through insurance and Medicare), the school can provide (through taxpayer funding), and their community can provide (through compassion).

    The ProJo had an article this last Sunday concerning the over-labeled (especially minority – Hispanic, Black, Native) children in ’special needs’ in many towns around the state. These students are extremely expensive for everyone and the schools may indeed consider them a revenue stream as funding comes from the Feds and the State as well as enormously out of the pocket of all local property taxes from citizens. These funds do not help the average and high performing students – their needs are not met, the advanced classes and teachers are not created or hired, the classrooms are for 6-8 students instead of 18-20 students and the additional ’special needs assistants’ are overwhelming the budgets. At Chariho we spend approximately 20% of our 50 million dollar budget on these (possibly over-labeled) students.

    If a child needs the extensive help, we should give it. It is difficult enough to be the parents of these children and I am sure insurance and Medicare cannot cover the expense (emotional, financial, physical, etc.) they incur daily. But, the majority that can be helped and ‘unlabeled’, especially in elementary and middle schools, need to be returned to their classrooms and classmates without the label. It is embarrassing to these children and hurtful when teased — and children can and do tease unmercifully.

    I do believe that Mrs. Perry and her staff do a great job helping a number of students. But this portion of Chariho’s (and all other communities) budgets compounds annually by ridiculous amounts and percentages. RI Department of Education will be demanding more and distinct accountability for these bloated numbers of ’special needs’ labeled students. Parents should demand simple and low-key after school tutoring or speech therapy or whatever – not pull students out of class for ’special assistance’ or hover over them in class. Kids are not stupid and they know this isn’t normal which makes the problem emotionally worse.

    And as Bob Petit said at the last school board meeting — the state will probably reduce funding for everyone and by a large amount. The Hopkinton budget was reduced by $274,000 this year alone – and although these were school funds, the school didn’t take an iota of the hit. Richmond will be hit harder and Charlestown and Westerly absorbed the loss for their schools as well.

    Comment by BarbaraC — May 24, 2007 @ 7:28 am | Edit This

    You are correct on the number of student’s assigned IEP’s in our state. RI has the highest percentage of such student’s in the country (approx. 20%).
    While Chariho is lower than the state average, it is still high compare to the nation and we have virtually no (statistically speaking) students from identified minority populations typically associated with receiving those IEP’s. Furthermore, Chariho has a relatively low number of 1) single parent families, 2) families in poverty 3) head of family is unemployed, 4) head of family is a high school drop-out (factors associated with “at-risk” children). These numbers for Chariho towns are even low compared to our demographic peers (Westerly, Coventry, SK, NK, Exeter)..
    Also, just to clarify, the RYSE program probably does average about 5-6 kids per classroom but the classroom typically has more than one staff member assigned to it (teacher, teachers aid, etc..).

    Comment by Bill Felkner — May 24, 2007 @ 7:35 am | Edit This

    I posted this yesterday, but it hasn’t appeared yet, so I’ll try again.

    Mr. Ricci is involved with a Southern Rhode Island group call SORICO. The stated mission (see below) seems to jive with the attempt to make the RYSE program suitable for housing many more students then Chariho’s needs. I don’t believe for one minute that there are not plans to fill the vacancies in RYSE.

    The Southern Rhode Island Collaborative Education and Training Center (SORICO), created in 1988 by the RI Legislature, is a regional service agency working with 9 school districts in southern Rhode Island. This includes 8 high schools, 11 middle schools and 33 elementary schools. There are about 23,000 students, of which 25% receive special education services. The nine districts include Block Island, Chariho, East Greenwich, Exeter/West Greenwich, Jamestown, Narragansett, North Kingstown, South Kingstown and Westerly.

    Our mission is “to develop and offer programs and services that meet the needs of its member districts when such services and programs can more effectively and economically be provided on a collaborative basis.”

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 24, 2007 @ 9:18 am | Edit This

    I posted some information on the Hopkinton RI Speaks blog (see below). In quick research on Multisystemic Therapy (MST) is is very clear that this program targets severe juvenile delinquents.

    I question the value of MST at Chariho? How many severe juvenile delinquents are in the RYSE program? I’ve heard the number 28 or 29 (Mr. Ricci being his normal fuzzy self), and find it hard to believe that we have that many severe juvenile delinquents at Chariho. This is the problem with the one size fits all approach and also why South Shore Mental Health’s proposal seems much better suited for a range of problems likely to exist in Chariho’s student population. Is it healthy for all RYSE students to be subjected to a program designed for severe juvenile delinquents?

    From my limited research of MST, it appears that Mr. Felkner’s concerns about Columbine-type anti-social behaviors is well placed. By selecting MST, Chariho is telling us that RYSE students are potentially dangerous to the community and other students. An MST conference (follow the link below) makes it clear that MST is used for children who engage in violent, criminal behavior.

    Here’s the post:

    Doing some research. The actual acronym is MST (Multisystemic Therapy). The approach is family oriented and according to informaion I read (see link below) MST targets violent children with criminal behaviors.

    While I like the family oriented part of the program, I have to wonder how many violent criminals we have in Chariho? According to a report in Projo a few years ago (see last week’s posts for a link), Hopkinton has a very low rate of violent crime. Are the violent criminal children coming from Richmond and Charlestown? If so, maybe those communities should be paying the cost of RYSE?

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 24, 2007 @ 10:06 am | Edit This

    Comment by Bill Felkner — May 24, 2007 @ 10:10 am | Reply

  2. Regarding your question of how many “violent children with criminal behaviors” there are at RYSE –

    The company that provides the MST certification (MST Group, LLC.) lists on their website that the program was developed for “serious juvenile offenders” and the research is “strongest and most consistent” for “violent and chronic juvenile offenders.” At the meeting, I asked how many violent and chronic juvenile offenders were in our district’s population. I will have to review the tape for the specific answer but I can tell you that no numbers were given.

    I’m sure it is available somewhere but I doubt that Richmond and/or Charlestown has a crime rate dissimilar to Hopkinton. In other words, I don’t think we have very many kids that fall into that category. That is why I am so concerned that our program is developed for that population. “If you build it, they will come.”

    Comment by Bill Felkner — May 24, 2007 @ 12:38 pm | Reply

  3. […] Theoretically, if a parent has the means (money or insurance), they can get services in the community.  But eventually, a parent may even loose the power to make those fundamental purchasing decisions.  Did we see a preview of this with Elaine Morgan? […]

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  4. […] into the program.  This is different from the ”forced placement” told to us by Elaine Morgan.  Chariho lost that suit by the […]

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  5. […] section of the previous post – This is not the first time I have heard stories like this, but like Elaine Morgan, it is one of the few times people have gone public.  I’m sure there are parents happy with […]

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  6. […] intention and not protecting the revenue source, why didn’t the committee (YOU INCLUDED) allow Elaine Morgan to speak when she, as a parent of a RYSE student, tried to tell us about being forced into a bad […]

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