• 36°

Other Voices: A better way to boost school security

If the North Carolina lawmakers who brush aside questions about sensible gun reform are serious about improving mental health care to prevent tragedies, they’ll put our money where their mouth is and heed the advice of those who say we need more resources. On April 9, leaders of state associations representing school psychologists and guidance counselors told a North Carolina House of Representatives panel studying school safety how short our state comes up now.

The focus on mental health comes after Parkland, Florida, school shooter Nikolas Cruz – who murdered 17 students and faculty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School – reportedly exhibited multiple “red flags” that went unchecked and did not prevent him from legally buying a semi-automatic assault rifle used in the massacre.

School counselors are often the initial contact for a troubled student or one with mental health concerns and may be “able to see some issues before they truly become severe issues,” Tim Hardin, an elementary school counselor and president-elect of the North Carolina School Counselor Association, told the lawmakers. In this state, though, we have one school counselor for every 386 students. That’s better than the national average but much higher than the recommended ratio of one counselor for every 250 students.

Access to school psychologists is far worse. This school year, the Associated Press reported, there is one school psychologist for every 2,100 public school students in North Carolina. That’s at least three times higher than the 500 to 700 students recommended by the National Association of School Psychologists. And it doesn’t reflect that 17 school districts don’t have a full-time psychologist employed this academic year, the AP reported based on information from the Department of Public Instruction.

Heather Lynch Boling, who works in Wake County schools and heads the North Carolina School Psychology Association, told the panel that most school psychologists are assigned to several schools or an entire district, and that they are given little or no time to actually evaluate students for potential mental health issues or provide mental health services to students who need them.

And it’s not always obvious who those students are, Boling said.

The professionals who spoke April 9 told legislators that hiring more psychologists and guidance counselors in North Carolina would help school officials identify students with mental health challenges sooner and could prevent severe violence. We think it’s a smart investment.

— The Dispatch, Lexington

Comments

Coronavirus

State to vaccinate medically vulnerable starting March 24

Coronavirus

One new death, 20 new COVID-19 positives reported in Rowan

Kannapolis

Kannapolis man dies in moped crash

Crime

Salisbury Police chief addresses K-9 video, says officer separated from animal

Local

Rowan Rescue Squad sets record straight on fundraising typo

Local

City approves DOT agreement, Salisbury Station project could begin next year

Local

County plans to use vulture effigy, enforce violations to remedy animal carcass feeding problem

Education

Two weeks after ending enhanced protocols, Catawba has no COVID-19 cases

News

Council to hear revised version of Downtown Main Street Plan

Local

Veto override of NC school reopening bill fails in Senate

News

Political Notebook: Majority of likely voters, local legislators support school reopening bill

Coronavirus

COVID-19 vaccinations in Rowan top positives since start of pandemic

Crime

Man faces drug charges after breaking and entering call

Lifestyle

Waterworks schedules 2021 Summer ARTventures

Crime

Blotter: Man faces drug charges after being found passed out in vehicle

Ask Us

Ask Us: What programs exist for litter cleanup?

Business

County begins accepting restaurant grant applications

Crime

Blotter: Salisbury man charged with nine more felony sex offenses

Nation/World

Biden team readies wider economic package after virus relief

Nation/World

Spacewalking astronauts prep station for new solar wings

Nation/World

Cuomo sorry for remarks aide ‘misinterpreted’ as harassment

Nation/World

Trump calls for GOP unity, repeats lies about election loss

Education

Rowan County administers 700 vaccines, with majority going to local educators

Crime

Shoplifting at Walmart presents challenge for Salisbury police