KILLINGLY, Conn. (WTNH) — The saga over mental health services in Killingly schools reached a new phase on Wednesday.
The Connecticut Board of Education began hearing testimony from parents regarding a complaint on mental health services in Killingly schools.
The hearing in front of the Connecticut Board of Education comes after a group of parents in Killingly filed a complaint in March of 2022 claiming the mental health needs of students were not being met. They were upset because the Killingly Board of Education voted down a school-based mental health clinic.
“Why are we here? Isn’t… are these allegations settled or not?” said attorney Deborah Stevenson who represents the Killingly Board of Education.
She and attorney Michael McKeon, who represents the Connecticut Department of Education had a little back and forth before testimony began.
“There’s something ironic about the fact that attorney Stevenson who has successfully delayed this hearing for 11 months… the date which was supposed to be January 12th through the 14th is now claiming I don’t know what I’m here for,” McKeon said.
Stevenson said the allegations are serious but false because the Killingly Board of Education and its administration have been handling the needs of students from the beginning.
“The overwhelming majority of the evidence upon which I based my find was provided by Killingly and that is that they were just overwhelmed,” McKeon said.
A former Killingly High School student spoke during the testimony.
“If I was so upset or something was going on I’d walk into the counselor’s office and I’d be told come back in an hour, come back next week and there were students that would be sobbing on the floor, in the hallways, in the bathrooms,” said Julia Revellese who left Killingly High School in her sophomore year.
The Killingly Board of Education has since brought in an agency to provide mental health services to students but some are concerned because it requires parental consent.
“To accuse Killingly of not being able to hire enough staff is ridiculous when the state itself can’t find enough staff,” said Stevenson.
This hearing is one of three scheduled so far.
McKeon said if the Killingly Board of Education makes changes and the Connecticut Board of Education finds that they are more adequately assisting students, then the state board might not have to act.
“Let’s say it’s a home-based issue so of course they’re not going to get parental support what are they supposed to do?” McKeon said.
Otherwise, McKeon said it can issue an order to comply.
“I’m just hoping that the outcome of all of this is that we get the support for our students that we need,” said Killingly parent Christine Rosati Randall.
During last week’s election in Killingly, a few town board of education members who opposed the school-based mental health clinic, were voted off the board.
“I’m hopeful given the election results,” Ravellese said.