School officials in all of the local districts contacted for comment by the Herald pointed out that the mental health problem of identifying and working with students who are idenbtified as being at-risk for harming themselves or others is as important as planning for a response to a shooting.
More than half of school board members who responded to an informal poll by the New York State School Boards Association said they do not believe that the students in their districts have sufficient access to mental health services, while another 14 percent were not sure what services their districts offered.
“School safety should be our number one priority,” said Timothy Kramer, executive director of the NYSSBA. “We were surprised to find that more than half of the respondents expressed reservations about the services their students are receiving.”
More than two-thirds of the poll’s respondents said they believe that federal money should be used to hire school resource officers — certified law enforcement professionals — who should be assigned to a school or a set of schools full-time. More than half who asked for the law enforcement personnel were also in favor of stricter gun laws.
“Students and teachers must have a strong sense of safety in the classroom for the learning process to take place,” Kramer said. “A multi-dimensional approach to school safety that incorporates bullying prevention, mental health services, responsible use of firearms and additional resource officers would likely have a better chance of success that any one single intervention by itself.” James Hynderford, the superintendent of the Malverne schools said that keeping mental health workers during a time of budget cuts and school funding caps is a challenge, but that his district had managed to maintain the proper balance.
State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Center) said last week that gun safety would become one of his top priorities, and called for court-ordered mental health treatment for those who won’t seek help but are deemed to be safety threats, including school students.
Other local school districts attened the seminar as well,