Killingly parents, students fight to add mental health center to high school

Killingly BOE discusses mental health center
Published: Apr. 28, 2022 at 12:26 AM EDT
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KILLINGLY, Conn. (WFSB) - Killingly parents and students are fighting to add a mental health center to their high school.

At Wednesday’s board of education meeting, families gathered to voice their opinions on the proposed mental health center.

Killian Young is a former Killingly student. They say a mental health center is crucial to both students and parents alike.

“My dad was the one who walked in on me attempting. He had to see his child in such a dark place. His face when he opened the door is one that I will keep in my mind forever. This mental health clinic will help not only the young people in Killingly, but it’ll also help the parents,” says Young.

The board first denied the health clinic back in March. That’s when the state department of education launched an investigation to see if the district is providing a safe setting for its students.

The original proposal was a health clinic inside the high school which would be sponsored by the local Generations health center. Students would request a therapist if needed. The board would not need to worry about paying or staffing the facility.

A survey was done last November by a regional health group of 477 7th to 12th graders, 15 percent say they’ve made a suicide plan.

“One of my children’s dearest friends committed suicide so this is something that is very very close to our family,” says Heidi Driscoll, a woman who complained to the state Board of Education.

Members of the Killingly community have been voicing their opinions for several months now. The debate got so heated that a Killingly Board of Education chairwoman resigned earlier this month.

At Wednesday’s Board of Education meeting, Norm Ferron emphasizes he is along with most of the board who voted to deny the center. Now they are looking for alternatives. Board member Chris Vein reminded his colleagues the state is investigating the board.

“There has been no determination on that, and there has been no law violated by this law. We were perfectly free to make a vote on the issue,” says chair member Ferron.

A petition was filed, forcing the board to hold a public hearing Thursday night on the mental health center. Chair members are not required to respond at this hearing.