Approximately 15 parents filled the Solon Board of Education boardroom, May 9, to express their concerns on mental health resources available for students at Solon City Schools. They asked the Solon School Board to consider adding support staff, and offer additional training to help school staff deal with the growing behavior issues due to mental health issues. 

“We must prioritize mental health in our schools,” said Elizabeth Frey, a parent of students in the district. “Do they have the tools to cope effectively during hard times? Are we doing our very best to nurture our children?”

Parents pointed to increased reports of behavior problems, fighting on the playground and foul language used by elementary children.  

“There is a lack of mental health resources available to students in grades K-12, we need additional resources and support staff,” said Kristen Chandler, a Solon schools parent who is active in the PTA. “Three administrators is not enough for 514 children.”

Ms. Chandler relayed the story of a parent of a child who was acting out in her child’s classroom. The parent reached out to her to ask for help. She said that parent felt he had no one else to talk to about it.

“Students acting out affect every student in the classroom,” she said.

Although school board members are not able to respond to those making public comments, Solon Schools Superintendent Fred Bolden later reviewed the current resources the district provides to students in terms of mental health resources and staff training.

“Members of our school mental health and counseling teams…provide individual counseling, support groups, suicide risk assessments, safety plans and referrals to community resources and mental health providers as needed,” said Bolden. “We have well-established partnerships with community mental health service agencies, such as Bellefaire-JCB. We are actively planning on expansion of those partnerships as well as forming new linkages, including a more direct connection with the Cleveland Clinic starting next school year.”

Dr. Jasdeep Sohi, a Solon parent and child psychiatrist with the Cleveland Clinic, spoke about a program called BRYT, Bridge to Resilient Youth in Transition. She said that the program is being used in Lakewood Schools as a way to reach children with mental health needs. Bolden stated that the district looked into that program, but did not qualify.

Dr. Sohi said that there were additional programs through the Cleveland Clinic that would be available to Solon and she offered her assistance in working with the school administration.

In addition to the expanding partnerships with mental health organizations, Mr. Bolden said three Solon school psychologists will be certified as Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI) trainers, and will then provide onsite staff training in preventive behavior management techniques and verbal de-escalation techniques. He said all new classroom, lunch/recess and security aides and monitors will participate in the CPI training, while current staff will receive refresher CPI training.

According to Tamara Strom, Communications Director for Solon City Schools additional programs for high school students will be added in the fall. 

“In the fall of 2022, we will be piloting the Cleveland Clinic’s School Mental Health Program Virtual Access Clinic, to provide quicker access and a more streamlined pathway to developing care plans for high school students in crisis. The Virtual Access Clinic professionals would coordinate care plans with students’ primary care providers and the school.”

She added that the school district is also meeting with Bellefaire JCB later this month to discuss opportunities for expanding the services of SAY social workers at all levels as well as assessing additional staff, resources and training. At the close of the meeting, School Board President Julie Glavin thanked parents for sharing their comments with the board.

“We appreciate when parents make their needs known to the board,” said Mrs. Glavin. “We all pay attention to your comments and what we can do to best help the students.”

In other business, Mr. Bolden encouraged parents to review safe prom and graduation plans with their students, and also provided information about Ohio’s underage drinking laws.  

He encouraged families to come to the Community Open House for After Prom from 5:30pm to 7pm on Saturday, May 14th at Solon High School to view the extensive themed decorations the PTA and after prom volunteers have created for the seniors.

The school board moved into executive session to end the meeting.

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