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Palm Coast Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020 2 weeks ago

Proposed suicide prevention plan would mandate new training for all teachers

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The plan may undergo changes before the School Board votes on it.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

A model suicide prevention policy proposed by the state would require schools to have every teacher undergo a two-hour training session on suicide prevention. 

“I hope we’re just not taking the language from the state and just rubber-stamping it ... instead of looking at what a good, solid model policy on suicide prevention is.”

COLLEEN CONKLIN, School Board member

The Flagler County School Board considered the proposal in a workshop Jan. 7. The board has already made suicide prevention and mental health care a priority, adding mental health experts at every school and coordinating with Flagler Cares, an initiative that provide resources on mental health care and suicide prevention.

Board member Colleen Conklin, who’s been at the forefront of those efforts, had some concerns about the proposed policy, noting that the one-page proposal did not address, for example, how districts should handle the return of students after a Baker Act institutionalization. 

“I hope we’re just not taking the language from the state and  just rubber-stamping it and adopting it as a policy,” she said, “instead of looking at what a good, solid model policy on suicide prevention is.”

The policy requires “all school district staff members to be alert to a student who exhibits warning signs of self-harm or who threatens or attempts suicide,” and to report any warning signs from a student or staff member to a principal or designee, who would then immediately contact the student’s parents and inform them that the student is being referred for mental health services.

The proposed plan also tasks the district superintendent with responding to a threat of suicide or an attempted suicide, and with creating guidelines to help school district staff members recognize warning signs of a student who may be considering suicide.

The two hours of training for teachers must be selected from a list of training materials approved by the Florida Department of Education.

The policy will be advertised for public comment for 30 days before returning to the School Board for a vote, likely in March, according to School Board Attorney Kristy Gavin.

 

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