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Ole Miss updates suicide prevention policy

by Grace Hooley, - ghooley@chronicle-tribune.com

The Mississinewa school board updated the corporation’s suicide prevention policy for teachers Monday.

According to Superintendent Tab McKenzie, there have been a few cases this year involving this issue. One case in particular involved a student revealing they were suicidal to a staff member off school property, and the staff member was confused about the policy and their responsibility with this situation. After review, the situation was reported to the police.

While the policy was approved only a year ago, McKenzie believed it needed to be clearer about what exactly was required.

“In order to clear up that misunderstanding or lack of clarity perhaps that exists in the policy as it existed, we added a few sentences to clarify,” McKenzie said.

Originally, the policy has to do with events that occur on school property during school time.

One of the added portions of the policy states: “Also if school personnel become aware of a threat of violence involving a student or staff member occurring outside of the school day or grounds, it should be reported to the principal as soon as possible. If anyone at any time makes a threat to harm self or others involving the school community, it should be reported to the police.”

“We believe that there’s a responsibility to prevent violence and save lives that extends beyond school boundaries and school time, especially in the digital age that we are in,” McKenzie said.

The other additions to the policy reiterated the point that if there is ever any kind of threat that becomes known to staff, they have a responsibility to address this to the police.

“We just wanted to make sure that everybody knew, you’ve got to make sure it gets reported to the police,” McKenzie said.

The board also reviewed the policy over the sale and purchase of school property.

Law states the board decides the price of their property, but it also requires the board to get appraisals of the land.

“I’m not a lawyer, but I think there’s a reason they want you to go get appraisals,” McKenzie said. “They want you to factor what an official, certified appraiser feels the price of the property is worth.”

Selling the land for less than the appraisal may lead to scrutiny that the school is leaning in someone’s favor. McKenzie stated that there is land the school owns surrounding some of the property where their buildings stand, and they have sold property in the past.

Informally, there has been a recent inquiry about purchasing school property, according to McKenzie.

“There’s inquiry from time to time from our public about properties,” McKenzie said. “And that happens probably every few years.”

In other news, McKenzie noted he has not been contacted by any of the staff about the Red for Ed day on Nov. 19, where teachers are gathering at the Statehouse in Indianapolis to encourage lawmakers to make a larger investment in teacher pay and in public education in general.

The corporation is not offering any time as of right now for teachers to participate in this day, and McKenzie said he is not encouraging staff to attend. He said he believes they have a greater responsibility.

“I think their first responsibility is to teach their classes,” McKenzie said. “But I also balance that with the understanding that Mississinewa teachers may want some representation. I just don’t think it needs to be everybody.”