Members of the Tennessee General Assembly will consider a bill that mandates public school and charter school officials screen students to evaluate how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their mental and behavioral health patterns.
This, according to legislation that State Sen. Katrina Robinson (D-Memphis) filed last month.
If legislators approve the plan then school systems would evaluate kindergarten through eighth-grade students, according to the language of the bill.
Members of the Williamson County-based Tennessee Stands said they disapprove of Robinson’s bill. In a recent emailed newsletter to supporters, Tennessee Stands described it as “a mini wellbeing check.”
“[It] gives state oversight over mental health for students K-8 without parental consent and creates funding for full-time psychologists and social workers for school districts,” Tennessee Stands said.
Tennessee Stands is a nonprofit. According to its website, members of the group focus on individual liberties.
Robinson’s bill would also require that Local Education Agencies notify students’ parents in writing before they perform mental or behavioral health screenings upon students.
Written notices, the bill went on to say, must include the following:
• The purpose for the screening
• The provider or contractor providing the screening
• The date and time that school officials have scheduled the screenings
• The length of time the screening may last
The bill, if enacted into law, would add more than $5.3 million to the state’s expenditures for Fiscal Year 2021-2022 and subsequent years, according to the bill’s summary. The bill would require that education officials fund one full-time school psychologist for every 2,500 or fewer students and one full-time social worker for every 2,000 or fewer students.
As The Tennessee Star reported last month, another bill in the legislature would give local school boards and charter schools more legal powers to create their own quarantine policies and implement those policies in an emergency. Members of Tennessee Stands endorsed that bill.
Federal officials charged Robinson in a new case, along with two other co-defendants, with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering. Federal officials said the allegations against Robinson pertain to The Healthcare Institute, based in Memphis. Robinson directs the institute, which trains people in the healthcare field.
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