Parents urge Killingly school board to OK school-based mental health center
Parents and students in Killingly continue to push for a no-cost, school-based mental health center after the Board of Education tabled a vote to take action on Wednesday. A parent-led petition calling on the board to step up led to a public hearing Thursday.
“We are trying to get this resource for our kids,” said Christine Rosati Randall, a Killingly parent. “We’re exasperated because we’ve presented all the information needed just to have the school board dismiss them.”
The Board of Education rejected the proposal to open a school-based health center in March. Parents then pleaded their case at the state Board of Education’s April 6 meeting. The parents also filed a complaint with the state Department of Education on the grounds that the school district failed to provide mental health services to students in need.
The department found the complaint to be substantial and opened an investigation.
In a survey by SERAC of 477 Killingly students in grades 7-12, 14.7% “admitted to having made a suicide plan,” and 28.2% had “thoughts of hurting themselves.” In the first 92 days of the 2021-22 school year, there were “500 incidents where students were emotionally unable to stay in class and needed to access immediate counseling.”
“This is a really serious matter,” said Rosati Randall.“Every day that goes by, our students are not receiving this lifesaving support, and they’re not learning.”
Parents said the pandemic has left many young people in town dealing with mental health problems. But some school board members who oppose the mental health center are in doubt as to whether enough numbers of students require mental health support.
Some board members have said they voted against the center because a counselor might offer a student advice that goes against the views of that student's parents.
If the proposal gets the green light, the school district would partner with Generations Family Health Center, which operates a school-based health center at Putnam Public Schools.
During a February informational session for the school board, staff at Generations said that from the initial contact, parent/guardian consent and involvement are initiated and emphasized as crucial to successful treatment. There would also be collaboration between Killingly High School’s clinical team and other health care providers on student needs.
The Board of Education has until May 6 to respond to the complaint.