LAKE COUNTY, Fla. — Following the Parkland school shooting, Florida mandated mental health training in schools. But as 9 Investigates discovered, a local school district is missing the mark.
Channel 9 Investigative Reporter Karla Ray sat down with the superintendent to see the challenges the district is facing in carrying out this crucial training.
An audit found Lake County Schools was missing the mark, noting as of the end of June, 31% of district employees and 17% of students had not yet received the required instruction for the 2022-2023 school year.
“Certainly, the numbers were not where we wanted them to be, or where we expect them to be moving forward,” Superintendent Diane Kournegay said.
The superintendent wrote in a response to state auditors that many staff members who were not required to be trained, were anyway; she also told 9 Investigates that high teacher turnover made reaching the 80% threshold for required staff more difficult.
“Your numbers are constantly fluctuating, as you get to nearing that 80% mark,” Kournegay said. “Then you have some turnover, your numbers go back again. So you’re just in this catch-up process of getting to that 80% mark, and that’s been a bit of a challenge.”
The district also pointed to absenteeism and dual enrollment, where some students take courses off-campus, as a challenge to reach compliance. The school district has implemented a fix for that already.
“We have set within our schedule some make-up days, so that if a student does miss a particular module, we’re able to catch them up by the end of the month, and make sure that every student receives the entire course and completes the entire course on youth mental health,” Kournegay said.
The superintendent also said that new hires coming into the district are receiving the training as part of the onboarding process, and though it’s not required, every school has a mental health liaison on campus keeping an eye out for any students who are struggling.
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