The Grossmont Union High School District is making major changes to its mental health services.
After a decades-long relationship with the nonprofit San Diego Youth Services, the district is taking a different route.
“We were disappointed because we had an incredible partnership with them,” said Walter Philips, CEO of San Diego Youth Services (SDYS).
Philips said his organization was informed of the change last month but was not given any reason for it.
The school board meeting
NBC 7 looked up a recording of the last meeting held by the board and found the decision stemmed from a public comment by Cajon Valley Union School District board member Anthony Carnevale.
Before the board, Carnevale requested the district look into not renewing its contract with SDYS.
“I met with the chief executive director of San Diego Youth Services and asked him, ‘Is it in the realm of possibility that our Cajon Valley Students could end up in your safe place receiving talks or referrals on surgery and transition?’” said Carnevale, “He did answer my question and asked if I did not want LGBTQ+ students receiving care.”
Carnevale went on to say his school district had terminated their contract with them.
Mental health services offered by San Diego Youth Services
“We are very proud of the services we provide to the LGBTQ+ community,” Philips said. “We are strong partners, we are a safe place in all of our programs and we know that the LGBTQ+ community has higher rates of suicide, mental illness and homelessness.”
SDYS had been collaborating with the district on two programs. One was where they provided on-site clinicians who would see students referred by teachers on mental health concerns. The other one was a suicide prevention program that provided outreach and education to students in the classroom.
“This kind of service is really needed for students, not just at Grossmont Union High School, but across the county,” said Philips. “It’s critical.”
The school board ultimately ended up voting against renewing the nonprofit’s contract.
NBC 7 reached out to the school district for comment and they responded with the following:
“All of our Governing Board members understand the importance of meeting the mental health needs of our students. That’s why, when the approval of the SDYS agreements came up on the July 20 Open Session agenda, our Board members discussed conducting additional research and exploring alternatives. That work – to provide our students with as many mental health resources as possible – continues. As the school year begins, we’re working to make sure all of our students have access to the resources they need.”
With the new school year just days away, the pressure to find a replacement is building up.