KILLINGLY, CT (WFSB) - Connecticut’s Board of Education it is looking into Killingly’s school board in the wake of a controversy involving a declined mental health facility for students.
According to a letter from Commissioner of Education Charlene Russell-Tucker to Killingly Board of Education vice-chair Norm Ferron, the state board received a complaint alleging that the Killingly board failed to implement the education interests of the State of Connecticut.
The complaint, which was submitted on behalf on a number of Killingly residents, was submitted on April 5.
The basis said Killingly’s board:
...failed to fulfill the educational interests of the State of Connecticut by failing to provide the minimum services and supports necessary to deal with the social, emotional and mental health needs of the students at Killingly High School. --Complaint submitted to CT Dept. of Education
It came in response to the Killingly board’s rejection of a free school-based mental health center, parents argued.
The complaint cited a Nov. 2021 survey by SERAC that said 14.7 percent of the 477 students who responded admitted to making a suicide plan and that 28.2 percent had thoughts of hurting themselves.
The group, Take Back Our Killingly Schools, said dozens of Killingly parents and residents added their names to the complaint.
“Because one day my child will be in high school and this is something that should be in place for all children,” said Suzie Renaud, parent.
“We are pleading with the state to investigate the actions and inaction of the Killingly BOE who we believe is failing to implement the educational interests of the state,” the group said in a news release on April 6. “Our students are experiencing a mental health crisis and the BOE has denied them access to the social and emotional supports they need in order to learn.”
The Killingly board’s chairwoman, Janice Jolly,resigned on April 8following growing criticisms of her opposition to the mental health center.
An official statement from the board was never obtained by Channel 3.
Russell-Tucker’s letter to Ferron said that the April 5 submission was deemed to constitute a “substantial complaint” as defined by regulations.
However, it also said that it must be understood that it does not constitute a determination of conclusion that the allegations in the complaint were accurate or that the Killingly board failed to implement the educational interests of the state.
“This is simply a threshold determination as to whether the complaint should be dismissed on its face or whether it warrants further investigation,” Russell-Tucker said. “It should also be understood that the focus of the investigation is on whether the Killingly board is providing a ‘safe school setting.’”