Students’ emotional well-being needs help

Dr. Barrow, members of the Board of Education, I am a concerned citizen, an educator, and a mom. In light of what has happened recently at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida and even more recently at Santa Fe High School in Texas, a variety of concerns arise for the security of our students and staff at all Fayette County schools and across the U.S.

I am encouraged to see Fayette County being proactive with increasing security measures; however, I think we are falling short as an education system in another way: the emotional well-being of our students.

I taught almost 10 years with the majority of my years being in 4-6th grade self-contained Emotional Behavior Disorder classes (1995-2004). In 2018, this section of special ed is virtually nonexistent.

It is not because these kids no longer exist in the school system, nor that they were miraculously “cured,” but rather that the lack of funding or budget reconfiguration has forced these students to be serviced otherwise or not at all.

The focus over the past 20 years has been on school test scores and rankings and on the students who have fallen through the cracks academically, and to improve those rankings. But what about the kids who have fallen through the cracks emotionally and behaviorally?

Although the population has steadily increased, there has been a 51 percent decrease in services. In Fayette County alone, we have a 46 percent decrease of EBD students serviced from 2000 to now.

There has been a decrease in services due to major changes by the Department of Education, the trickle-down effect of less funds being allocated for special education, therefore less and less self-contained classes.

So, the student who would have originally tested eligible and greatly in need of the self-contained EBD class/setting is now in the general education population, under the instruction (and minimal to no emotional or behavioral support) by a teacher with a regular education degree.

If you do your research on school shooters, there is a commonality they share: They are emotionally broken and have slipped through the cracks. (And no, I am absolutely not saying all EBD students are shooters, nor are all shooters automatically EBD.)

How have we failed these students? What can be done to get back our much needed self-contained classes or better services on the continuum for these students that need and deserve to be serviced?

Amy Perciaccante
Peachtree City, Ga.