Superintendent warns: School needs 'desperate mental health' support
DUNDEE--Dundee Central School Superintendent Kelly Houck says the school has reached a crisis point for mental health support needed for students and families within the district.
Houck alerted school board members about the email which she recently sent to local politicians addressing the problem at their Thursday, Jan. 24 meeting.
In her email, Houck states, "I have several students and families that are in true crisis" and "in desperate need of mental health evaluations and treatment."
The initial email was sent to Assemblyman Phil Palmesano. Houck's letter was then forwarded to other area politicians including Congressman Tom Reed.
Reed has invited Houck to attend a meeting he is hosting with additional area officials and constituents Thursday, Jan. 31 in his Corning office.
Houck also said she will be phone conferencing with the state Commissioner of Mental Health Services Feb. 25 to discuss the lack of resources for her students and their families.
Houck's email is published below:
Good Morning Assembly member Palmesano,
I am writing in sincere hope that you can assist me in helping my students, families and community in getting their mental health needs. I have several students and families that are in true crisis which in turn places our entire community in crisis.
Services are limited at best and the bureaucracy, procedures and protocols associated with getting treatment of any kind is nothing short of ridiculous. These families are already in a place of constant turmoil and operating on nothing short of survival, making it impossible for them to navigate through the ridiculousness of obtaining services.
If they somehow manage to meet the demands of the current system with a significant amount of time, help and resources from the district (and even then, we are not successful most of the time) their needs are not addressed or grossly under treated. This week alone, we transported three students to three different medical facilities who were and are in desperate need of mental health evaluations and treatment. All three were seen by clinical staff for 10 minutes or less (after waiting five plus hours to be seen), no treatment, no medication prescribed, no admitting the child for further and complete evaluation/observation, ridiculous and unacceptable. One child was completely out of control and had to have hospital security called on him three times while waiting to be seen. What was done? Each family was told follow up with their local provider and that the school needs to communicate the needs of the child on a greater level, again utterly ridiculous and unacceptable.
I am extremely concerned and could write a novel instead of an email about this crisis within our district, county and state. I am more than well aware of the travesties that can occur when mental health needs are not addressed, let alone validated. I fear what these children might do or who they might become if something significant is not done to change the current system.
My resources, staff and financial means are exhausted and nothing short of depleted. My staff works tirelessly day after day and we are all well aware that if we do not meet the needs of the whole child, how will we ever begin to teach them reading, writing and arithmetic. We continue to have more mandates placed on us to teach mental health components and other areas of well being, we have always done this, the issue is not the curriculum or lack of school district interventions, it is a broken system beyond our walls that continues to derail.
I am urging, begging, pleading that this become a plight, a ticket/ballot/campaign item regardless of what party you represent. My students, my families, my community need something done. I do not want to become the next set of headlines.
A very concerned school superintendent,