North Kansas City schools to continue mental health partnership to help students

Also helping more districts launch similar program
North Kansas City schools
Posted at 12:24 PM, Aug 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-16 13:24:12-04

When school resumes Wednesday in North Kansas City so will a partnership district leaders praise for changing student behavior.

The North Kansas City School District said it's the first district in the metro to hire a mental health liaison.

Tri-County Mental Health Services employs the therapist, but partnered with the district to make her available full time to students. Shirleetra Roundtree has filled that role at the district the past two school years.

She meets with students and parents individually or in groups away from campus in a room near the district headquarters designed to put students at ease.

District leaders said their school administrators asked for help handling children with consistent behavior, focus, or extra-curricular challenges. Now teachers can refer a student to Roundtree. The district provides transportation for a child to go to her office instead of school when they have an appointment.  

The therapist works with students to handle anxiety, bullying, or finding what distracts them in the classroom.

The district has recorded a decrease in absenteeism and punishments since it launched the program.

"You have to know what is really going on because if that's not addressed, it's really not fair to be punitive unless you can really help the child learn well what is going on with me," Roundtree explained.

This month, Clay County voted to create a children’s services fund. North Kansas City school leaders hope those funds can help them expand this counseling program.

"We have worked with neighboring districts, they are very interested in finding out how to start a program like this and how to keep it going," Executive Director of Student Services Perry Hilvitz said. "It’s a gem right now what we have here and we are very proud of it."