BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio — A Lakota Board of Education member is facing backlash from the community after she compared the district's suicide prevention and mental health groups to the Salem witch trials.
During Monday's board meeting, Darbi Boddy called Lakota's suicide prevention and mental health groups evil.
"I agree with those who say the program is insane and will create far more stress and anxiety than it could ever pretend to relieve," Boddy said during her closing statements. "Teachers and administrators do not have the education, and children and adolescents are simply not emotionally equipped to participate. See the Salem witch trials."
Boddy went on to describe the groups as a scam to separate parents from their children.
"The encroachment into parenting is pure evil and we need to put it to an end. It is comparable to the Nazi handbook and a tactic of the communists is absolutely evil," Boddy said. "There is barely enough time in a day to comprehensively teach writing science, history arithmetic and critical thinking."
After Boddy's comments, board member Julie Shaffer replied: "I am very proud of my kids' academic achievement and that is absolutely imperative, but if they were dead it really wouldn't matter how much reading, writing and arithmetic they knew."
Former Lakota East student Landon Meador called Boddy's comments disgraceful.
"I was a junior here at East when we first implemented Hope Squad to all the districts in the area and that was a big first step," he said. "I was someone that struggled with mental health as well as many of my friends, so it's a big thing. When you are in a school district, especially the size of Lakota, it's easy to kind of get pushed to the side."
The district provided the following statement:
"Prioritizing the safety and security of our students includes providing support for their mental health and well-being. Access to care is the biggest barrier our families face, which is why we are proud to provide licensed therapists in every one of our schools through our partnership with MindPeace. This is just one piece of several prevention programs, which are all approved by the Ohio Department of Education, that we use to help keep our students safe.
"Last year alone, nearly 1,000 Lakota students received over 12,000 hours of school-based therapy with these trained professionals. Districtwide, 10% of all of our students were referred for mental health treatment. Sadly, we’ve seen evidence of the upward trend of suicide ideation among adolescents right here in Lakota. This school year, for example, in addition to numerous hospitalizations due to mental health needs, we have already documented 90 cases of suicide ideation by our students. That’s 90 students too many.
"Bottom line: our students and families need our support. We remain committed to providing access to professional care and prevention programs to those who need it."
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