School district is firmly committed to students’ well-being

Superintendent addresses county program in letter to the community.

As a major part of its commitment to the physical and mental well-being of its students, the Mercer Island School District (MISD) utilizes the King County-funded Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) program.

While participating in the regional program — which is used locally by some Islander Middle School and Mercer Island High School students — districts protect student privacy when sharing data from the Check Yourself interactive, youth-friendly survey with the county, according to a letter to the Island school community from Superintendent Fred Rundle.

According to the King County SBIRT page, the survey is a secure, web-based application developed by Seattle Children’s Hospital and asks questions about students’ strengths, substance use, social and emotional health and safety.

Rundle said that families whose student would be taking the SBIRT screener were notified prior to the survey being administered and had the option to opt out.

“The 15-minute screener provides immediate access to the results, which gives staff a chance to intervene with students quickly,” Rundle said. “The information King County can access is de-identified and is used only to look at regional trends and not student-specific data.”

Only a school administrator or counselor working with students — who are assigned unique test numbers before taking the survey — will have access to identifiable information, according to the county and Rundle.

King County launched its program in 2019 and it is funded and supported by the Best Starts for Kids grant.

“The program encourages youth to talk to their parents and caregivers about their health,” the county page reads, adding that, “Students are developing stronger connections to adults in their schools. When students build relationships with adults in schools — teachers, counselors, coaches, etc. — they feel safe asking for help.”