The state Department of Education recommended an investigation into the Killingly School District after discovering that there was “reasonable reason” to believe its Board of Education had failed to implement the state’s educational interests when members voted against a proposal for a mental health grant funded. A health clinic in the city high school.
The state’s 38-page report “describes in great detail the Killingly Board’s repeated failures and refusal to implement reasonable interventions to meet students’ demonstrated mental health, social, emotional, and behavioral health needs,” reads the introduction.
The report details the state’s investigation into what happened at Killingly and the reported need for mental health care among the students. The investigation follows a complaint lodged by a group of parents in April.
“The CSDE investigation into the April 5, 2022 Complaint, Section 10-4b determined that while Killingly recognized the extent and severity of the mental health needs of their students, Killingly Board failed and refused to implement any remedial measures,” the report states. “Indeed, the board’s inaction has been so systematic and prolonged that one could reasonably consider it a willful refusal to meet the mental health needs of its students.”
Chairman Norm Ferron did not directly address the contents of the report.
“My only comment at this time is to express disappointment with the way in which directors have read this in the press rather than being formally notified beforehand,” Veron said in a statement emailed to CT Mirror. “I’ll have a lot to say about this later.”
While the recommendation and report appear to validate many of the points in the complaint, one of the group’s organizers fears the investigation will take more time, and students at Killingly still lack the mental health services they need, despite nearly a year of pleading with officials State and local officials. A survey about mental health went first to Killingly students late last year.
The investigation is essentially a hearing before members of the state board of education. State law allows the board of directors to order an investigation or dismiss a complaint, according to the report.
The ministry is scheduled to present its recommendation to the state board of education on Wednesday. The Board will then vote on the final decision.
City residents filed a 10-4b complaint in April, although discussions about the mental health center began last winter. This type of complaint alleges that an area violated state educational interests. In this case, the complainants said that the state did not provide minimal support to the students.
“I look at this through the lens of an adult. I can’t imagine what it must be like when you’re a teenager watching this unfold,” said Christine Rosati Randall, one of the complainants.
“It was the murderous Board of Education’s words, actions and inaction that led to this recommendation,” Rosati Randall said. “It was difficult to follow this process and watch students, parents and staff appeal to this service that costs the district no cost just to dismiss.”
The local council voted in March to reject the school’s mental health center, and some members cited concerns about notifying parents about care. But the language used in the battle was rife with politics, including many Republican talking points about abortion, gender identity, and angry mobs.
Since then, the board of directors has rejected persistent requests from parents, students and staff to reconsider its decision and voted on proposals from fellow board members to vote again on the health center.
All this came with the emergence of a national crisis related to the mental health of young people. After lockdown during the first part of the pandemic, more students reported mental health challenges including depression and anxiety.
A survey of Killingly students found that 66 students – or about 14.7% – of those surveyed reported having seriously considered suicide. When the numbers were reported to the board of directors, the president, who has since resigned, wondered if the students were telling the truth.
Veron, who was then vice president and now chairman of the board, said he believed it was “not that many,” according to the original complaint to the state.
“The fact that nearly 66 students have admitted to seriously contemplating suicide is deeply troubling, but equally so is the fact that when faced with these numbers, Killingly Council leadership has driven them out of control, especially given the legal mandate provided by the School Board,” said the school environment. Safe,” the state recommendation says.
The board discussed other ways to improve school safety and possible alternatives to a mental health center. Members voted to approve armed guards in schools and to implement the Rachel Challenge, a program founded by parents of one of the children killed in the Columbine shooting.
Rachel’s challenge was brought up in meetings as an alternative to the health center. Aims to teach anti-bullying through social emotional learning techniques during the workshop.
District requests for federal funds through emergency relief for elementary and secondary schools and emergency relief funds for the US Rescue Plan Primary and Secondary signaled implementation of a school health center. The state referred to this request and the subsequent failure to provide the health center as another problem.
“In addition to the failure to implement state educational interests as they relate to students’ mental health, and therefore safety, Killingly’s inaction has also negatively affected traditional indicators of state educational interests,” the report says.