Amid State Investigation, Killingly School Board Considers Adding Mental Health Services

NBC Universal, Inc.

The Killingly school board is considering new ways to support the mental health of students.

It comes as the state has launched an investigation into the district and its response to what some see as a mental health crisis.

“This board is making dangerous decisions for our students and destructive to our public education system,” said Heidi Driscoll of Killingly.

As families packed a Killingly school board meeting on Wednesday, a new person, Norm Ferron, took over as chair. The previous one, Janice Joly, resigned amid controversy including questioning how a mental health survey of students was handled.

Back in March, the Killingly Board of Ed voted against a plan to open a school-based health center at the high school. The community is outraged.

“You need to put the politics aside and remember what’s really important - the health and well-being of our kids,” said Seth Varin, a senior at Killingly High.

On Monday, the State Education Commissioner fired off a letter to the district saying an investigation was starting into “whether the Killingly Board is providing “a safe school setting.”

It came after parents and students brought forward concerns following the Killingly school board in March rejecting a plan to bring a school-based mental health center to the high school.

“I’m all for mental health and yes there is problem. However, I believe with peer mediation I think this is a better alternative to a school-based health center,” said Jasmine Berti of Killingly.

On Wednesday, board members and the superintendent talked about other possibilities including hiring new staff, including therapists, bringing in special programs and telehealth.

Though with a survey finding about 15% of students admitting to having made a suicide plan, some think the center would be important.

“We need help from an outside agency to be able to fill those licensed therapist positions and provide the mental health supports our kids desperately need,” said Kris Cicchetti of Killingly.

Several board members are pushing for the center to be setup for a one-year pilot program. That could be voted on at the next board meeting.

Some board members still have concerns including if students could receive services without parental permission.

Contact Us