The student voice of Vista del Lago High School

The Raven's Call

School district hires new social workers

Cynthia Sosa

Cynthia Sosa

Brian McMillian, News editor

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The Moreno Valley Unified School District has taken the initiative of hiring Therapeutic Social workers to address on campus emotional and academic counseling for students throughout the district.

As mental illness among teenagers continues to increase district official have found it necessary to hire social workers who are licensed to provide emotional and social counseling. These social workers will work in group settings and on an individual basis to help students improve their behaviors and cope with home issues. Although, this may lead many to wonder, why is the district employing social workers if we already have counselors who can talk to students?

Many students don’t know, but counselors hired by the MVUSD are not required to have certification qualifying them to provide emotional and behavioral therapy.

In fact, Principal and former Counseling department supervisor Karen Johnson feels the term “counselors” is outdated and needs to be revised saying, “Some schools now call them Guidance Counselors, other schools call them College and Career Advisers and the change is needed.”

Along with comments from Vice Principal Vladimira Chavez said how the school job does not require applicants to have a ” Marriage and Family Therapy license.” Which is required by the state to provide theraputic counseling.

What comes to mind when most students think of a counselor. Are your go-to person for your emotion and academic problems, while in high school. Although, like many other things in the education system the true purpose of counselors changed over time. According to Johnson due to the huge push to get students into college; districts started shying away from hiring counselors with the right certification to give mental health counseling. Instead of focusing on those that are on the career and college readiness experts.

Leaving students without a qualified support person to help them with their emotion issues. One sophomore even reported being turned away by his counselor after attempting to see her because of a recent fight between him and another student.

“ I went during lunch to talk to her and she didn’t even wanna see me. She was really rude,” said Sophomore De Shane Smith. “ She even began to rush me acting like she was busy.”

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control found that 12 percent of all teens in the US have a mental illness. That’s is 5 percent more than a report by the CDC in 2001. Considering this rise in mental illness among teens it would only make sense for school districts to make significant efforts in caring for students mentally.

Although, we are getting these social workers another problem arises. The Moreno Valley
Board of education has only allocated enough funding for three social workers. Meaning only three people have been put in charge of over 30,000 students emotional and physical welfare. Leading many to question how efficient they will be.

One student Junior Bryce Blackmon shared his concern saying, “ We need more than three people to help us, it is bad enough with only 8 counselors who are always, but three people for an entire district is horrible.”

The real problem stems from a lack of funding. During the 2007 economic crisis California public schools were hit with serious budget cuts. Causing many teachers and staff to be laid off; as one teacher put it “ Getting a Pink slip.”

“ I remember a whole bunch of teachers being worried especially those without seniority, it was a really horrible time to be a teacher. May of my friend were lost” said Science teacher Manuel Armendarez

Because of those budget cuts many after school programs and services previously made available including counselors carrying MFT’s were made away with. Leaving the question of how are students getting efficient mental health services if we only have three people in an entire district helping them.

According to Goals 2000, a framework for standardized education. Public schools in the United States will provide a mental health system for students by 2010. Putting the Moreno Valley school district seven years behind schedule with this measure.Due to the fact, there is no current mental health system set in place for general education students.

Instead, the only students receiving therapeutic and behavioral services are those in the Individual Education Programs, IEP’s and enrolled in Educationally Related Mental Health Services ERMHS, which is a funded through and exclusive source called Special Education Local Plan Area which is given by the Federal education budget. This program requires all students in special education receive services to the maximum of their needs.

The only problem that arises with ERMHS is that only special education students can take advantage of its services. Because it is funded through the federal SELPA budget, the money must be used in the manner specified otherwise the district can be penalized.

When the matter was brought to the attention of Superintendent Martinrex Kedziora gave no comment sighting time.

Currently, the district is taking steps to increase the number of social workers on Moreno Valley campuses. Although, a recent memo sent out by California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, stated that the State of California has intent to merge Special education services with general education.

Meaning that service offered to students in special ed will be extended to those in general education. Opening the possibility for students to participate in ERMHS. The decision came after researchers found certain special education classes to be quote-unquote “ A disservice to student and families involved.”

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The student voice of Vista del Lago High School
School district hires new social workers