- Under a new Ohio law, tax revenue intended to make schools safer could also be used to provide mental health services to students, the Toledo Blade reports.
- Lawmakers included a last-minute amendment into House Bill 24, which would allow school districts to use the funds from property taxes not only for hardware such as security cameras or resource officers, but also for counseling or other mental health services.
- Sylvania Schools Superintendent Adam Fineske and two school board members from the district met with a state senator to push for the addition, the paper reports.
According to the National Association of School Psychologists, more than half of students with serious mental health issues do not receive help or treatment for those problems. But in recent years, districts have taken more steps to better identify students who might need to be referred for more intensive services. The Missoula County Public Schools (MT) this school year began screening all 9th- and 10th-graders for depression by using a survey, in addition to providing education and resources on suicidal ideation. But officials say it’s still difficult to provide services in the day, and district mental health professionals are not equipped to provide long-term therapy.
In Nebraska, the Lincoln Public Schools and city leaders are proposing the creation of a separate city agency that will use property tax funds to support new school resource officers as well as mental health services and before- and after-school programs. The funds would also support the city’s community learning centers, also known as community schools, which work with community-based partners to provide non-academic services.
Some experts say officials also have a responsibility to better track and support students after they leave or are expelled from school — a scenario relevant to the shooting in Parkland, FL. “We need regional and state educational authorities to take more responsibility for this small group of students after they are expelled for threatening others with weapons,” Ron Avi Astor, a professor of education and social work at the University of Southern California, writes for CNN. “Alternative schools need to be supported to provide mental health services to these students, to monitor their progress and rehabilitation, and coordinate between the school, the local community, and the justice system to prevent these students from falling between the cracks of our system.”