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Killingly school board meets in wake of mental health facility fiasco

A large group of Killingly students and parents said there is a mental health crisis in their district.
Published: Apr. 13, 2022 at 6:34 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 13, 2022 at 11:20 PM EDT
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KILLINGLY, CT (WFSB) - A large group of Killingly students and parents said there is a mental health crisis in their district and local school districts have failed to solve the problem.

The state Board of Education said it is investigating the issue.

Killingly families said they have been fighting this fight for a long time. They pushed to build a mental health clinic within Killingly High School to offer more services to local students because they said mental health problems have been an epidemic in town. A recent survey showed nearly 15 percent of middle and high school students who responded had formulated a suicide plan. However, the local board rejected the mental health facility plan.

Several parents and students showed up tonight urging the district to act on the mental health situation kids are facing in town.

The board went back and forth and after several hours of discussion there was no solution.

The conversation was pushed to the next board meeting

With the state now investigating the district to see if they are providing a safe setting for kids.

The board is considering alternatives to the health clinic they denied last month

Alternatives some board members brought up tonight was hiring more therapists at the schools or tele health.

However, one member went against those ideas by bringing up the hiring struggles they are facing

Another big concern was whether parents can opt out of allowing their kids to see a counselor.

The board didn’t know the legality of that and didn’t feel comfortable proceeding that idea.

“I am here in favor of the mental health center. I believe this is a great opportunity for killingly public schools. You need to put politics aside and remember what is really important the health and wellbeing of our kids,” said Seth, a student.

“Yes, there is a problem however I believe that with peer mediation a better alternative to the school-based health center. I think that it would be great for students to be able to go after school and talk to each other,” said parent jasmine.

The board decided to just push the conversation until the next board meeting.

One action they did take was naming a new chair and vice chair since the last chairperson resigned last Friday amid the mental health controversy.

Last week, some parents and students traveled to Hartford to ask the state to do something.

“I really wish our school could have some support because I think it’s having an effect on our behavior and on our mind,” argued Alyssah Yater, a Killingly High School senior.

Families said they were especially frustrated because the mental health clinic would be paid for with grant money. So, it wouldn’t cost the district a dime. However, supporters may have momentum on their side. After last week’s meeting, the state board announced it will investigate the Killingly board’s decision.

Parents told Channel 3 that they will not stop fighting because the stakes are simply too high.

“Because one day my child will be in high school and this is something that should be in place for all children, and think it’s for the best for everybody,” said Suzie Renaud, a parent.

It’s former leader, chair Janice Jolly, abruptly resigned last week.

A large group of Killingly students and parents said there is a mental health crisis in their district and local school districts have failed to solve it.
The state Board of Education plans to discuss a Killingly mental health facility controversy.