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Orange County schools considers adding more psychologists to improve safety

ORANGE COUNTY, Fl. — More school psychologists and mental health counselors might be coming to Orange County schools under a plan up for consideration on Tuesday.

  • This is in response to the Parkland school shooting that left 17 dead
  • Orange County received more than $4 million to address mental health issues
  • School district considers to approve plan during Tuesday night’s meeting
  • READ the proposed plan here

It is in response to February’s school shooting in Parkland that left 17 people dead.

Orange County Public Schools got more than $4 million from the state to address emotional and mental health issues for students.

The money comes from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas School Safety Act, passed during this year’s legislative session. Not only did the legislation put some restrictions on gun sales, it also provides money for mental health.

That is enough to add 51 new jobs in Orange County Public Schools. Among them:

  • 12 mental health counselors
  • 9 school psychologists
  • 6 behavior coaches

“It’s critical for us to be able to evaluate our students, to have some early intervention opportunities with our kids to make sure we are meeting all the challenges that are posed for kids today,” said Scott Howat, chief communications officer for Orange County Schools.

The district will also continue to use their Early Warning System, which it established in 2014, to identify troubled students early on.

The system monitors a student’s grades and disciplinary action and any anecdotal information from teachers to determine if the student needs help.

“It’s essentially a way to identify the needs of students early, to make sure we’re looking at the whole child,” said Howat, “Everything that’s going on with them, from discipline, to grades, to test scores and when there is a dip or a drop, to make sure we’re addressing it to make sure we’re able to address their needs and get them back on track.”

The school board meets at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at district headquarters in Downtown Orlando to consider approving the plan.

The district hopes to fill as many of these new positions by the start of school year.

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