Connecticut Town's Wingnut School Board Boldly Protects Teens From Mental Health
The Republican War on Education keeps rolling along, making sure that public schools will provide only education and services that would be acceptable in the Republic of Gilead. The latest attempt to protect "parental rights," we learn, comes from the town of Killingly, Connecticut, where many teens, parents, and educators have been calling for the high school to open a mental health clinic to provide counseling to teens, because the pandemic and the town's struggling economy have left a lot of young people struggling. The state legislature has made grants available that would cover the costs, and an area nonprofit, Generations Family Health Center, is ready to provide counselors to staff a Student Behavioral Health Center.
On the other hand, the local tea party and the Republican majority on the Killingly Board of Education are worried that counselors might discuss things with troubled teens that patriotic conservative parents don't agree with, so in March, the board voted down a proposal to set up a mental health center at Killingly High School. That oughta learn those teens who say they're in crisis who's boss! That March vote — and some outrageous comments by board leaders — prompted a formal complaint to the State Board of Education from parents who supported the clinic, accusing the board of failing to provide a safe school environment for Killingly students as required by state law. The state board is now investigating the complaint.
A survey conducted by a mental health nonprofit last year indicated that local students in grades seven through 12 would probably benefit from improved mental health services. Nearly 30 percent said they'd had thoughts of harming themselves, and a similar percentage said they have felt so sad or hopeless that it had interfered with their daily activities. 14.7 percent of the kids surveyed said they had seriously considered attempting suicide, and had made a plan to do so. This is also where we remind you that if you're having thoughts of suicide, you can call the national suicide prevention lifeline at 800-273-8255 for support, 24-7.
Mental Health, Schmental Schmealth
According to the complaint, at the March 16 school board meeting that voted down the counseling center proposal, Board Chair Janice Joly downplayed the results of the survey, asking why, if so many students really were suicidal, nobody had reported the results to the state's child welfare authorities. Informed that the survey was anonymous in order to get honest answers, Joly then suggested the kids were probably lying anyway: "How do you know they were honest responses? We're dealing with kids. They could have written anything. That's what kids do."
At the same meeting, Board Vice Chair Norm Ferron also complained about the survey, suggesting that the 14.7 percent number didn't seem especially large, and what even was the big deal?
Following the uproar over her remarks, Joly resigned from the Board of Education; the Republican majority on the board voted for Ferron to replace her as chair. He has explained that he voted against establishing a mental health center at the high school because kids might receive counseling on "controversial topics," and that would be very bad!
“Basically, what is a stranger to the parents can be advising their child on any issue,” he said. “They might be giving them counseling directly opposed to the views of the parents.”
Like for instance, maybe a kid is struggling with depression because of conflicts with their parents, but the parents know that they're right and the kid just needs to accept that? Totally unethical for the kid to air the family's dirty laundry with any old licensed clinical social worker, who might actually be a socialIST Daily Worker for all the parent knows!
Only Crazy People Want Mental Health Services
Before she actually left office, Joly wrote a letter to the editor of the local paper explaining that the issue wasn't really that teens in the town are in crisis, but rather that leftists just can't handle losing control of the school board:
“You all might recall that the majority of people in Killingly voted for the candidates they wanted to represent them back in November, and it wasn’t the Democrats,” Joly wrote. “Clearly, you are all struggling with that fact, rather like Hillary Clinton did when she lost the election.”
The main issue driving the election of the current school board in 2020 was conservatives' promise to restore the high school's racist Native American mascot, the "Redmen." The board accomplished that, and if the offensive mascot remains in place next year, the school district stands to lose $100,000 in annual grants from the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Fund. Totally worth it to own the libs, of course.
Later, in a radio interview with WINY (we are not making up those call letters), Joly explained that she'd resigned not because she'd done anything untoward, but to protect her own safety, especially since her opponents were dangerously deranged, like the teenagers who'd testified at board meetings that they needed a mental health center at school:
I just felt like I wasn’t safe, and so I asked the town manager and the superintendent to provide police protection, because some of the people in the group had already professed that they had mental health issues, and I was afraid someone might attack me.
See? They admitted they were mentally unbalanced, so the answer was to vote against the student mental heath center and to point out its advocates were crazy, they said so themselves.
Area Teabaggers Have Concerns
Also "helping" to oppose the mental health center was a local Tea Party Patriots group and the couple who lead it. State Rep. Anne Dauphinais circulated her very own perfectly legitimate survey with many not at all leading questions, asking whether participants supported "schools counseling minor students on contraceptives, premarital sex, or abortion issues without parental knowledge or consent," or about religious beliefs or family values, or about "gender identity," because clearly those hot-button culture wars issues are the primary focus of mental health counselors who are out to warp children's minds. Strangely, another question asked whether schools ought to be allowed to advocate "for or against specific political parties or figures" without parental knowledge or consent, which suggests Rep. Dauphinais has some really odd ideas about what counseling involves.
For good measure, the survey also asked whether respondents supported the schools providing "medications" and vaccinations without parental consent, although liberal nitpickers pointed out that the school mental health clinic wouldn't be doing either. There is just no pleasing these people.
Not surprisingly, the survey's completely scientific results were touted by opponents of the counseling center; at a March 9 board meeting, Rep. Dauphinais's husband, Dale Dauphinais, called attention to the survey in public comments. Mr. Dauphinais is chair of the "Quiet Corner Tea Party Patriots," named for the region of Connecticut, not for tea partiers' demeanors. He explained that the proposed mental health center was an "unwarranted government intervention" and that "This is where they divide the parents and the students." After all, the chief objective of public education is to destroy the family and pave the way for Marxism, so why invite in mental health "professionals" to further mess around with high schoolers' minds?
Contacted for comment by the Connecticut Mirror, Mr. Dauphinais "declined to be interviewed about the health center and instead offered comments about the CT Mirror reporter who contacted him."
“You are not a reporter, you are a biased, dishonest propaganda machine,” Dale Dauphinias wrote in his emailed comment. “You have a better chance of interviewing God because of your dishonesty. Use that as my quote. I bet you won’t, and it will prove my point.”
The quote is right there in the story, so I guess Mr. Dauphinais now respects the reporter's honesty and integrity.
As for the school board, new chair Norm Ferron said that while he hadn't actually seen the questions, it provided very valuable information to counter that other stupid survey suggesting teens were in crisis:
“I’m not sure exactly specifically what that was, but I know it contradicted some of the other surveys that were done,” he said. “It was more inclusive of more parents.”
A survey's a survey, right? You have one where a substantial percentage of teens say they're depressed and suicidal, and another where a self-selecting bunch of rightwing parents oppose schools getting all nosy about private matters, so clearly there are many legitimate views on both sides.
As if mere technicalities like "the law" matter, Superintendent Robert Angeli pointed out at the board's April 14 meeting that under state law, minors can seek mental health services without parental consent or notification, but added that
Melissa Meyers, chief operating officer for Generations, informed him that instances of students accessing such services on their own in other towns were “exceedingly rare,” with parents typically brought into the conversations “hopefully, by the very first session.”
OK, sure, but that's no reason to have those secular humanist family-wreckers providing mental health services right in the high school, and maybe doing Critical Race Theory while they're at it. At the same board meeting, several members said they might support a pilot program for the mental health center if parents could direct that their kids not receive counseling without their consent, never mind what the state law says.
Board Decides To Kick Can Down Road Again
At a new Board of Education meeting last night, the board again decided to do nothing, despite testimony from parents supporting a school mental health center.
“From what I can see, Killingly has a mental health crisis, the students are asking for help,” said Ivy Ross, a parent of two children in the Killingly school district.
“In the months that we have been discussing and debating this, I know one child in my circle that has ended up in the ER for pre-suicide,” said Misty Murdock, a Killingly neighbor.
Following the public comments, two of the eight board members said they supported a motion to vote on the center, but the rest voted against putting it on the agenda, tabling the issue yet again. The Norwich Bulletin reports that the board didn't discuss when the question might come before the board again, if ever.
A public petition regarding the formal complaint to the state garnered enough valid signatures to require that the school board host a public meeting tonight where the six board members who voted "no" in March can explain themselves, but only if they want to — they're not obliged to answer any questions from the public.
Going forward, if the state board of education's investigation finds that Killingly School District is failing in its mandate to "provide the minimum services and supports necessary to deal with the social, emotional and mental health needs” of students, the state could order the district to make changes, although that process could take months. It should be fine, though, since maybe the kids are just making up all this "mental health" stuff anyway.
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