Leander ISD student deaths bring focus to mental health

Leander ISD kids (KXAN Photo)
Leander ISD kids (KXAN Photo)

CEDAR PARK, Texas (KXAN) — Thursday night, school board members with the Leander Independent School District announced they will take up the issue of mental health the next time they meet.

“The board is hurting, our community is hurting. I’m looking forward to the community coming together,” said Trustee Jim MacKay, who is also a suicide awareness facilitator. “We work together to help our children.”

The move comes after the superintendent sent a letter to parents about recent student deaths. Concerned parents tell KXAN two students — one at Cedar Park High School and Cedar Park Middle School — took their own lives within days of each other.

“One being a middle schooler and one being a high schooler, within four days of each other,” said Gretchen Kropp, a parent at Cedar Park High School.

She and her daughter, Sydney Mayfield, a freshman at CPHS showed up to the board meeting for the first time to hear what the district had to say.

“How can I not come?” said Kropp. “I have children in school and my motivation tonight is just out of genuine fear.”

Mayfield questions the resources currently available outlined in the LISD letter. “Kids are not gonna go out there and say, ‘Hey I have problems, I need to solve them.’ They want people to come to them and help them and that’s not what’s being met,” said Mayfield.

Kropp would like to see a more proactive approach that’s more student driven.

“Kids are not going to go to adults to talk,” said Kropp. “Kids need kids to talk to. They need to identify peer leaders within those schools, have those kids identify kids that are struggling silently and really make those connections.”

The next LISD school board meeting is April 20.

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