Woodbridge, VA: After school shootings, parents demand more mental health professionals

Mar 1, 2018, Woodbridge, VA, Inside Nova: After Parkland, Prince William schools consider hiring dozens of mental health professionals Before the Parkland massacre ever brought the issue to a head, Superintendent Steve Walts proposed that the division hire one new mental health specialist, a part-time special education psychologist and two part-time social workers. Yet board members are signaling a willingness to go far beyond those modest additions to the workforce, in order to help troubled students get treatment before they ever turn to something as horrific as a school shooting. “People want to see us with more mental health professionals,” said Alyson Satterwhite of the Gainesville District. “Our parents see this as a must-add and are demanding this.” Board Chairman Ryan Sawyers announced immediately after the Parkland tragedy that he would be proposing a substantial hiring surge in new school counselors and psychologists. At the board’s work session, he asked division officials for a cost estimate on his ambitious proposal, which would raise county staffing levels to meet the staff-to-student ratios recommended by professional associations for both counselors and psychologists.