In February, Educational Services Unit Number 2 hired two “Navigators,” a newly created position that would act as a social worker, lining up students with behavioral and mental health resources out in the community as needed.
And as the ESU and its 16 school districts in northeast Nebraska continue to consider ways to address students’ social and emotional needs, the next step could be looking into bringing on a licensed mental health practitioner, according to ESU 2 Administrator Ted DeTurk.
That’s a step that some other ESUs across the state are looking into. And while it could one day be a possibility, ESU 2 is not at that point just yet, DeTurk said during a Board of Education meeting on Monday.
“I will not sit here and tell you down the road we will not be recommending a licensed mental health practitioner down the road for ESU 2, we’re just not there yet,” DeTurk said.
A licensed mental health practitioner would actually be able to do counseling with students within ESU schools, compared to Navigators who are more like social workers that connect students with those types of resources out in the community.
DeTurk said that he would want to ensure that the ESU takes a strategic approach to consider adding any such position.
“One licensed mental health practitioner for 16 districts isn’t going to do us any good, so we are going to take this a little more strategically and we’re going to take this step by step,” DeTurk told the board. “Our intent was let’s get as many resources to the school as possible.”
He added that the Navigators have been well received and have helped move the conversation forward when it comes to mental health in schools.
“I think our Navigators are doing a really good job,” he said. “They were introduced to all of the schools. There’s lots of conversations taking place now about screeners, and surveying students and all those kinds of things. We are well underway regarding social and emotional learning for ESU 2.”
In other news from ESU 2’s Monday board meeting:
- DeTurk announced that ESU 2 employees who were unable to come to work would be docked sick days, as opposed to personal days or vacation days. That includes employees who work both at the ESU office in Fremont as well as schools out across the region. He noted that in situations where schools or the office was closed, no time would be docked. But for those who were unable to traverse flood-damaged roads to arrive when school was open, the ESU has decided that using sick days, rather than personal or vacation days, would be more appropriate.
The board approved a new contract for Abigail Kostic to take over as a school psychologist.