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How do the School Board candidates differ? Part 1: Mental Health Supports

Updated: Oct 20, 2023

Stark differences between the candidates were revealed in Wednesday’s Blue Valley Post School Board Candidate Forum. One area that particularly concerned us is candidates’ answer to this question:

“Do you support school counselors, psychologists, and social workers?”

Alarmingly, the Moms for Liberty/1776 Project PAC-backed School Board candidates said they do NOT support mental health initiatives that have been objectively successful in our schools. Here’s what they had to say:

“We didn’t have a mental health epidemic 10 years ago.” This statement is objectively false. Robust mental health supports in BV Schools, including a contract with Children’s Mercy for Social Workers, are a DIRECT RESULT of the epidemic of teen suicides our district saw several years ago.

“It’s my job as a parent” (to address my kids’ mental health). NO ONE in BV Schools is working to undermine parents/guardians. District mental health supports partner with parents every day.

“I favor removing the gap between teachers and parents...restore the teacher-parent partnership.” We don't know why these candidates insist that there is a “gap” between teachers and parents. But we DO know that we can’t ask teachers to *also* be counselors and Social Workers.

“We need to get back to the basics in Blue Valley.” This is a phrase often repeated by the Moms For Liberty/1776-backed candidates. Blue Valley is one of THE best school districts in the nation. Nobody moves to Blue Valley for a “basic” education. Eliminating district practices that are working to decrease, even eliminate, student suicides is unconscionable! Cutting positions that support our students, families, teachers, and staff does not foster productive learning environments.

“It’s not good about your feelings all day.” This statement indicates a severe lack of awareness about what really goes on in our schools. Blue Valley high schoolers don’t get outstanding AP scores and earn college credits by not focusing on academics. This statement may pander to certain voters who buy into “our schools have big problems” but it just doesn’t hold water.

“They’re unnecessary.” This argument was used in the context of increasing teacher pay by cutting Social Workers. At one Social Worker per school, how much can teacher pay *really* be increased by cutting *some* Social Workers - and importantly, who will fill that role for students and families? Everyone agrees teachers should be paid more, but cutting vital supports isn’t the way to do it. School Social Workers, counselors, and psychologists not only assist parents in helping their students, those supports also allow teachers to focus on TEACHING versus adding “social worker” to their long lists of daily responsibilities.

And what was the unequivocal answer from the A+ Team of Hurley, Dietz, Kessinger, and Norkey when asked “Do you support school counselors, psychologists, and social workers?”


In answering this question, Hurley, Dietz, Kessinger, and Norkey corrected misinformation and gave their full support for continuing to provide mental health programs that ARE working.

Norkey: “100% support mental health programs. We took steps to address the epidemic of suicides.”

Kessinger: “One suicide is too many. Kids can’t learn when mental health is suffering. Mental health supports are one more tool to help them learn.”

Hurley: “This program has done amazing things. Social Workers in BV Schools are not treating kids, they are helping kids and families figure out if they need help and how to get it.”

Dietz: “100% supportive of mental health programs. They DO partner with parents. Community efforts and programs have brought us here - after tragedies forced action.”

1776 and MFL-backed Jim McMullen has already voted AGAINST BV’s partnership with Children's Mercy to provide vital Social Workers in our schools. The Board vote was 6-1 in favor of keeping Social Workers. That’s because we now have ONLY ONE extreme BoE member. If voters allow a majority of BV BoE members with extreme ideology - our kids and families won’t have access to tools proven to be life-saving.

Spread the word. Vote Hurley, Dietz, Kessinger, Norkey. Early voting starts Sat. Oct. 28 at BV Hilltop campus.

Watch the Blue Valley Post candidate forum here:

This question occurs at 54:33

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