Killingly parents seek investigation after school-based mental health services voted down

KILLINGLY — Parents have filed a complaint with the state’s Board of Education calling for an investigation after the local school board voted last month not to open a school-based mental health center at the high school.

School officials had reached out to Generations Family Health Center, a federally-qualified health center, about opening a school-based health center at Killingly High School, according to the complaint dated April 5.

However, the school board voted down the proposal during a special meeting on March 16, despite what the complaint described as an “extensive advocacy campaign.”

The complaint listed the names of dozens of parents and community members who supported its claims. The parents wrote that the town, nestled in the “quiet corner” of Windham County, is a “mental health desert.”

“In a region where access to mental health resources are scarce, the (school-based health center) was a tremendous opportunity to bring much needed mental/behavioral health services to our district at no cost to the town or our families,” the complaint states. “We are a low-income region with many working and single-parent families, some with limited transportation, others with no transportation at all.”

“The (health center) would have removed the barriers to accessing the mental/behavioral health services that our students desperately need in order to learn,” it continued.

The complaint asks the state Board of Education to investigate and force corrective action on the Killingly Board of Education.

Some members of the Killingly community spoke to the state Board of Education directly during the public participation portion of its meeting on Wednesday.

Parents have also raised issue with a Killingly school board member who allegedly downplayed the results of a school mental health survey. The board claimed that because it was anonymous, the students might have written anything.

An online petition calling for the board member, Killingly Board of Education chair Janice Joly, to step down has since gathered hundreds of signatures. Joly did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment Thursday.

It was not immediately clear when the state board will decide on whether to act on the complaint.

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