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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: May 7, 2019 12:56 PM
From: Representative Wendi Thomas and Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, Rep. Joanna E. McClinton
To: All House members
Subject: "Phillip's Law" - Study on School Mental Health Professionals
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for ages 15-34. Recently, we have seen children even younger than 15 take their own lives.

An 11-year-old student in Representative Kenyatta’s district named Phillip committed suicide after enduring prolonged bullying from his peers. According to Phillip’s family, he tried to get the attention of the support staff at his school but was told he had to wait. Afraid to miss the bus, and worried about his brother, he left school and later took his own life.

This tragedy has drawn attention to the fact that school mental health professionals are not always available because, due to budgetary constraints and the fact that there is no mandate that schools retain mental health staff, schools may not have adequate staff on hand. Our bill would address this issue by requiring the Department of Education to investigate and report on the number of mental health professionals in schools in order to make recommendations on how to increase the number of school mental health professionals to meet nationally accepted ratios.

This legislation will help us take an honest look at the number of school mental health professionals our students have access to so that tragedies like this can be avoided in the future. We ask you to cosponsor this legislation in honor of Phillip.

Introduced as HB1622