Out of all of the worker's compensation claims within Brunswick County Schools, almost half in 2014 came from teachers who were assaulted by their students.
These statistics were brought up in front of school board leaders Tuesday night to show why a program is needed to address students' mental health.
Brunswick County is proposing a plan to create a day treatment center within Bolivia Elementary that would help kids with aggressive behavior or mental health issues.
The proposal hasn't been without controversy though. Comments from parents in the county surround the assumption that these children are “bad kids.”
"It's not just bad kids,” Erin Cimino said. “It's kids that really need help dealing with the things life has handed them."
Some parents argue the message the day treatment program is sending could be easily misunderstood, and by singling out students with mental health issues, they will be labeled for their actions, when what they really need is therapy.
But others argue having these kids in the same school as children without mental health issues poses a safety issue.
"I think any parent would, you have the best interest of your child in mind,” Jon Weaver said. “Bolivia is a great school. We have a great support of parents. We want to keep that great school. We have great teachers. We have a problem with teacher attrition already, we don't want to lose the good teachers we have."
Weaver also believes the main issues surrounding the proposed program come from a lack of communication from the board.
"I think there's a lot of consensus inside that room from parents and people in the audience that we have great concerns about the school board, about how they handle their business, about lack of transparency…quite frankly a lot of issues that have happened in the past have demonstrated a poor track record of how they handled and execute things,” Weaver said.
Bud Thorsen made a motion to allow staff to contact the selected vendor from the RFP process, Alexander Youth Network, to gather additional information, begin he examination of facilities at Bolivia Elementary, and to begin examining any other viable locations for the program to include stand alone facilities. The motion passed 5-0.
Any contract for the program would be presented to the Board of Education for final approval.
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