Spring Mental Health Series #1
February 11th, 2016

Improving Excessive Absenteeism and Reducing Student Dropout Rates - A Mental Health Perspective

This conference will feature best school-based practices to deal with excessive absenteeism and prevent students from dropping out of school. The Honorable Jay Blitzman will give an introductory address, followed by Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Susan Swick who will focus on the psychosocial dynamics which interfere with school attendance.  Richard Melillo, Director of Students Services for the Somerville Public Schools, will present a detailed description of an effective multi-faceted program to improve attendance and tardiness. Charles Sachs is heading up a research project at Framingham State University and will present research-based strategies to improve school attendance and drop-out rates, with an emphasis on how to address the mental health issues which significantly impact school attendance.

·         Hon. Jay D. Blitzman, First Justice, Juvenile Court Department, Middlesex County

·         Rich Melillo M.Ed., Director of Student Services, Somerville Public Schools

·         Charles J. Sachs, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Framingham State University

·         Susan Swick, M.D., MPH, Chief of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Newton Wellesley Hospital


Thursday, February 11, 2016

8:45 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Registration begins at 8:15 a.m.

McCarthy Center, Framingham State University

100 State Street, Framingham

Free for members, $50 for nonmembers

This conference may be linked with the October 21, 2015 School Attendance Summit for 10 PDPs.  MPY has applied for CEUs through the NASW and the MaMHCA for this conference. 

Presenter Bios:

Mental Health Series #1

Jay D. Blitzman, is the First Justice, Massachusetts Juvenile Court, Middlesex County.  Prior to his judicial appointment, Judge Blitzman was a founder and the first director of the Roxbury Youth Advocacy Project, a community based interdisciplinary public defenders unit which created the basis for the development of a statewide department. Judge Blitzman also co-founded Citizen’s for Juvenile Justice (CfJJ).  Since becoming a judge, he has continued to present and write on a wide range of juvenile justice and child welfare issues. Judge Blitzman teaches at Northeastern University School of Law, UMASS Lowell, and has been a visiting faculty member of Harvard Law School’s Trial Advocacy Workshop program since 1986, becoming a Team Leader in 2014.

Richard Melillo, M.Ed.,has more than 30 years of experience in public education. Working as the Director of Students Services for Somerville Public Schools, Melillo is responsible for student discipline, health & safety, student attendance, 504 accommodation plans, drop-out prevention and other special projects. He has extensive experience in addressing student absenteeism. He designed and implemented the Systemic Family Approach to Excessive Absenteeism, resulting in highest attendance rates in Greater Boston for the Somerville Public Schools.  He holds a Masters Degree from Salem State College and certifications as a principal, school counselor and supervisor of attendance.

Charles J. Sachs, Ph.D.,  is a pediatric clinical psychologist and an Assistant Professor at Framingham State University, in the Department of Psychology and Philosophy.  Dr. Sachs’ current research interests include an examination of chronic school absenteeism, which developed from his many years of clinical work with school age children. During more than 10 years at the MetroWest Medical Center’s Child Development Unit Dr. Sachs was the clinical liaison between the inpatient unit and the schools that children admitted to the unit attended.  He holds Ph.D. from Columbia University and a Master Degree from Columbia University in Developmental Psychology; he earned his BA from Stony Brook University, and completed fellowships at Beth Israel Hospital (Boston), Judge Baker Children Center, and Children’s Hospital (Boston). 

Susan Swick, M.D., MPH, is the Chief of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Newton Wellesley Hospital, where she is also the Director of the PACT Program (Parenting At a Challenging Time) at the hospital’s Vernon Cancer Center. She is an attending psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and is an Instructor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, where she directs a course on Parent Guidance for the Child Psychiatry fellows.  She regularly writes and speaks about parenting and cultivating resilience for both clinical and general audiences.

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Middlesex Partnerships for Youth, Inc.
15 Commonwealth Ave
Woburn, MA 01801