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School board debates allowing Crossroads services on campuses

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013 9:55 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013 10:09 a.m. CDT

Should mental-health services be provided on campus at Clarke Community School District?

That was the topic debated during a Nov. 26 Clarke Community School Board meeting.

Clarke Superintendent Benita Gonzales said Joyce Westphal with Crossroads Behavioral Health Services talked to her about providing behavioral-health services at Clarke Community School District. Westphal was not at the school board meeting.

“It would also provide an opportunity for Crossroads to work with our teachers — with our faculty and staff — in regards to talking to our teachers about mental-health issues, talking about ways to work with kids that have some of these issues,” Gonzales said.

What is Crossroads?

Crossroads serves Adams, Clarke, Taylor, Madison, Adair and Union counties. Its main office is based in Creston, but it also has many satellite offices within its service-provider area.

Crossroads was established to provide support, counseling and therapeutic services to individuals, children, couples and families.

The satellite office in Osceola is located at 820 N. Main St.

Providing space

Gonzales said the school district would have to provide the building space on the school campuses, and services could be provided one day a week.

“I don’t have any other schools to even compare this to because this is new,” she said.

Gonzales said the service would be free to the school district, but the space provided needs to be “uninterrupted” and “confidential” space. This could be an office for one-to-one or small-group counseling.

Crossroads staff could provide their own technology and keep all of their documents off campus.

“They will take care of all of the financing, all of the work with the parents, sending out letters and communication with parents,” Gonzales said. “Basically, all we’re doing is providing a spot one time a week.”

Administrative interest

Gonzales said she talked with Clarke Elementary Principal Jill Kiger and Clarke Middle School Principal Jeff Sogard, who would both be willing to let Crossroads staff work in the building on a trial basis for a semester.

However, Clarke High School Principal Kim Antisdel was not in favor of it. Gonzales said Antisdel already has concerns that high-school students are being pulled out of class too much already.

School board members also discussed the problem of finding a space for Crossroads staff, since there already is a problem of not having enough building space for students.

Why Clarke?

As discussion on the subject progressed, a question was asked, if mental-health services are already offered in town, why should they be in the school buildings?

Gonzales said Crossroads staff could be able to provide on-site training services to teachers and administrative staff.

She said it could also be beneficial to not pull students out of class for a-half day of school if they have an appointment off campus. The students could continue to be in class until they have an appointment in the school building.

“We do have students who are currently … leaving for the afternoon if they’ve got a one o’clock appointment and not returning to school,” Gonzales said.

Another question was, could the school be responsible for liability if Crossroad staff was in the district’s buildings?

Gonzales said Crossroads could take on all liability or billing issues when working with children.

There are currently many organizations that provide services within the school district, such as the organization Life-Line Resources in Osceola.

Still to come

No action was taken on the issue. The board had some concerns and questions that still needed to be addressed.

“I’m wondering, are kids going to get picked on, or a stigma attached being seen walking in there?” said board member Larry O’Tool. “I think we ought to be careful with this.”

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