Killingly students are heading back to school tomorrow without the essential mental health supports they need to succeed, parents told members of the State Board of Education today.
Killingly students, parents, and educators first came to the State Board of Education back in April after their local board of education refused a badly needed mental health center at the high school, which would have come at no cost to the district.
[Pictured above right, State Senator Mae Flexer joined members of the Killingly community for a rally at the State Capitol in August in support of a school-based mental health center.]
When their pleas to the Killingly Board of Education repeatedly fell on deaf ears, Killingly community members turned to the State of Connecticut, filing a formal complaint. The State Department of Education has opened an investigation, but it has yet to yield results for Killingly students.
“Five months have passed since we filed a 10-4b complaint with the state,” parent Christine Rosati Randall told the State Board of Education today. “Our students needs remain unmet and their voices remain unheard by the Killingly Board of Education.”
Parent Kristine Cicchetti explained that the mental health center that had been planned for the high school is a proven intervention model.
“It would reduce barriers for students and families seeking treatment, and at not cost to the district,” she said. “No one would have thought the board would have held hostage mental heath resources for our students and staff.”
“Students are feeling unheard, they’re beginning to give up hope that those who are supposed to listen to them will,” said parent Lisa Gerard. “No families should have to experience the loss of a child due to the personal biases of members of the board of education.”
“Our schools are not safe. Our students and staff are not sate,” said Rosati Randall. “Trusted staff are leaving the district in droves, and they’re citing a lack of support by the Killingly Board of Education.”
Killingly educators are back in their classrooms preparing to welcome their students and were unable to attend today’s State Board of Education meeting. CEA President Kate Dias spoke on their behalf,
“These are real kids with real issues,” she said. “They need real help today and preventing them from receiving that help is very detrimental. For the educators, it makes them feel helpless, and the cost to Killingly is educators will leave.”
Dias has worked in a district with a school-based mental heath center, like the one denied to Killingly students, and has seen first hand how vital those supports are.
“I had a student who came to me with thoughts of suicide, and that is a traumatic and challenging thing as an educator. You never forget it and it never leaves you—and absent support services, you feel helpless and desperate. But I was fortunate enough to work in a district that had a lot of resources. So we’re looking at a kid who we were immediately able to support and make sure that they were really getting their needs met. Now, you move forward, and you have a productive 30-year-old with children doing wonderful things and, but for those services, that could have been very different.”
“We are pleading with you, take action, hold the Killingly Board of Education accountable,” Cicchetti said.