KILLINGLY, Conn. (WTNH) – Only two out of eight board members expressed support for a school-based mental health center at Killingly High School Wednesday night. Despite the pleas of parents and neighbors, the rest of the board voted not to take action.
In March, the board voted down the proposal to open a school-based mental health center, which would offer behavioral and mental health services at no cost to the district. Since that vote, a group of parents filed an 11-page complaint with the State Department of Education. The state’s commissioner of education ordered an investigation after it was found to be a “substantial complaint.”
Parents and neighbors pleaded with the board to approve the mental health center at a meeting Wednesday night.
“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.
At the BOE meeting in March, former Killingly high school student Cillian Young shared his story of how he once tried to take his own life. He again stressed how much a mental health center would help families.
“My dad is 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 I will keep in my mind forever. This mental health clinic will not only help young people in Killingly but the parents,” he said. ““Please don’t disappoint us, please hear our plea.”
Kelly Martin-Vice, the BOE chairperson, said his story struck her: “Your story touches my soul and I’m happy that you’re still with us and I’m happy that you were able to be here tonight.”
After public comment, one board member motioned to make the mental health center proposal an action item. One other board member supported it, but the rest of the board voted no, tabling the vote to the next meeting.
The BOE is holding a public hearing Thursday at 7 p.m. regarding a petition concerning the school-based health center.