Monday, August 19, 2019

Looks like there's no funding for the 5-hour mental health instruction Florida officials just announced for Grade 6-12 students

Posted By on Mon, Aug 19, 2019 at 9:22 PM

Last month, Florida Department of Education passed a new rule requiring five hours of mental health instruction for students in the state.

Monday, it became clear that there was no plan on how that would be funded.

School board member Angie Gallo confirmed it was an unfunded mandate at the Orange County legislative delegation in response to questions from Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando.

The five required hours will apply to students from 6th to 12th grade, according to the July 16 announcement from the Florida Department of Education. But the education department's initial announcement provided few details, and Eskamani sought more information on how exactly it would be implemented.

"We received constituent questions about it," she told Gallo."There seems to be lack of funding, and also not as much clarity as school districts benefit from."

Gallo said she's meeting with the department of education to get more information, but confirmed there would be no funding for the program.

"Yeah, we have some concerns about what that will look like," Gallo said. "I have had some conversations with the DOE — not as a school board member but as a PTA member — with some of the concerns we've had around that."

The initial announcement from the department of eduction didn't offer many specifics — just that the required instruction will give students the tools to spot signs and symptoms of mental illness, give guidelines on how to speak to other students who may be struggling, and provide information on what resources they should seek out for help.

"Obviously it's exciting to have that addition," Eskamani said. "When it's unfunded it becomes a burden to the school district to uphold that responsibility."

The initiative falls in line with First Lady Casey DeSantis' Hope for Healing campaign, which in part is aimed at targeting mental health problems, along with substance abuse.

Gov. DeSantis called for more action on mental health after two survivors of the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland committed suicide in March.

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