Dayton schools considering new mental health options after deaths of 2 students

Following the deaths of two Dayton Public Schools students, the district is looking at new ways to better support students.

A Dunbar High School sophomore and an Edison Elementary student both died within the last two weeks, according to Dayton Public Schools. The district has not said how the students died but has asked publicly for support for the students and their families.

“It’s a very heavy heart having to go through what we’ve gone through in the last couple of weeks,” said Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli. “And I know that our teachers, our staff, and our families are also feeling that.”

Lolli said she plans to bring a prevention program idea to the board within the next few weeks, and the district is looking to provide additional support other than social workers and resiliency coordinators already in school buildings.

“We’re looking at some additional programming options that we can bring forward and talk with the board about those things to support our students,” Lolli said.

The Dayton board of education voted unanimously Tuesday at its meeting to enter into an agreement with Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County for the agency to provide resiliency and visibility services to vulnerable populations within the district.

The ADAMS Board of Montgomery County provided the funding for the project, which is in effect for the next three years, according to the agreement.

Dan Suffoletto, spokesman for Public Health, said the program is one part of a $165,370 grant that offers services to other schools and services outside of schools.

Board member Jocelyn Rhynard said the agreement will help students.

“I think it’s step in the right direction,” she said. “Any loss is one loss too many, and I share your grief as much as I can.”

Other board members echoed Lolli’s sentiments of concern for the district.

“My heart goes out to the families and hopefully that we can do something about this,” said Gabriella Pickett, another board member.

Board member Karen Wick-Gagnet complimented the teachers and staff who worked to help students process trauma, as did board president Chrisondra Goodwine.

“My deepest condolences continue to go out to the families and especially to our educators in those buildings who hold such space for the students who are experiencing this trauma, which is far too frequent,” Wick-Gagnet said.

Another member remarked on how interconnected the city is and how tragedies affect more than just Dayton schools.

“If something happens in one building, it affects kids all across the city,” said Will Smith, DPS board vice president. “They go home, they live in the neighborhoods with these kids, their families know each other.”

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