BOE To Give Update On Mental Health Initiative

By on February 24, 2020

The Verona Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, February 25 will feature an update on the mental health initiative that Verona voters approved for the district in 2018. Frank Mauriello, who has been Verona’s director of special services since 2015, will give the report. He and Verona’s superintendent, Dr. Rui Dionisio, recently presented on Verona’s mental health programming to the national convention of AASA, The School Superintendents Association.

In December 2016, in the wake of a student death by suicide, the Verona Public School district created two action committees to examine two aspects of its learning environment. The Mental Health & Suicide Prevention and Code of Conduct & Respect action committees looked into separate aspects of mental health and wellness in the district and what it would take to improve the district’s handling of these issues. The committees’ work resulted in a ballot question asking voters to approve $550,000 to be added annually to the district’s budget specifically for mental health services.

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The question, which was approved in 2018, has added three mental health clinicians to Verona’s child study team to deliver services all all six Verona schools. The “Why Mental Health Matters” also led Verona Public Schools to host presentations for students and the community on suicide by Kate Fagan, the author of What Made Maddy Run: The Secret Struggles and Tragic Death of an All-American Teen. The district also held sports games for suicide awareness in 2017 and 2018. Verona was one of 34 school districts nationwide that were recognized as “Districts of Distinction” by District Administration magazine for its efforts to improve mental health services.

The BOE meets in the Learning Commons at Verona High School at 7 p.m. You can find the full agenda for the meeting here. The meeting is open to the public, and will be videotaped for the district’s YouTube channel.

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