TEENSCREEN REJECTED FOR PINELLAS COUNTY SCHOOLS-Andrew Stelzer

01/25/05

This afternoon the Pinellas county school board was set to decide on whether to begin implementing the Teen screen suicide prevention program as a pilot program in one county high school. But over 200 people packed the school boards’workshop this afternoon, and the school board decided not to implement the pram in response to overwhelming opposition by the public.

ACT “While the notion is noble, the methods are questionable, Bruce Siliad was one of the over 200 people who came to the Pinellas county school board meeting in opposition to the teen screen program.

ACT “Giving them drugs in the name of depression, suicid..makes things worse….�

Citizens are opposed to teenscreen for several reasons, the first of which is related to privacy. The Pinellas county schools currently have a policy which prohibits surveys which that identify students by name. Teen screen asks students 30 questions, and depending on their answers, identifies them as at risk for suicide, then sent to a psychologist for counseling if they show problems. They then may be recommend to take prescription drugs, all in the same day. When the meeting opened, most of the school board members said they were not in favor of altering the county’s privacy policy in favor of allowing teen screen.

ACTS

ACT—Brown—Galluci? “We have a process that is in place at the present time, and if we find a student that needs help,. I personally do not see a need to change.

ACT ‘We really need to not do it right now….we can recraft the student survey policy

ACT--Bostock ‘I have a serious concern and more and more, and if there was some other program of another nature, but right now..��

But board member Linda Lerner said she was in favor of the program.

ACT-Lerner “I strongly support the policy going forward….I feel that I need to tell the people here and tell the rest of the county what is happening. I believe in citizens organizing, and many of you have a certain view..Teenage suicide is a real problem…I think this board is not telling people about what the issue is. It looks like the board is not going to do this. If this policy did go forward, one high school, 1 pilot…..lets call it for what it is, we have a large community of scientologists, in the past , if anyone spoke out, they were in big trouble, but this is important enough that I will speak up about it. I believe in medical science, drugs do have side effects, there have been issues, but people who are depressed, people whoa re thinking of suicide..and I’m talking about the scientology sites..they dont deserve to have the issues buried…IM A CHRISTIAN..the meeting is open to the public…I think this body is being stopped from even discussing it, the majority of emails scientologists who believe psychologists are abusive, APPLAUSE, they’re here and we need to listen but we should not be stopped…this is right form the scientologists website, they don’t believes in any of it…��

Teen screen has caused controversy in other places across the country. In an Indiana high school, some Parents were upset that they had to return a form which said their children would not participate in the testing—so if they never got a notice in the mail, it was considered to have given permission for TeenScreen. Teenscreen has also received funding form pharmaceutical companies such as Eli Lilly. And in a particular insult to Pinellas County, Teen screen director speaking in front of senate committee on capitol hill in march of 2004, testified that they were piloting district wide mental health screening of 9th graders in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties". But in fact, the day before Flynn's testimony, the Hillsborough County School District said they were not partnering with TeenScreen, and Pinellas had not and still has not signed on as a partner.

Pinellas school bard members took issue with some of Linda Lerner accusations, and disagreed that the opposition was solely the work of the church of scientology, which is based in Clearwater. Board member Mary Brown.

ACT-brown ‘I made my decision based on my research, the email came in but I had to look at what I had, and it wasn’t based on the number of emails, I looked at the info that was there, and looking at what we had, I have real concern about

And several board members, including Mary Russell, said it’s important to address the problem of teen suicide, but just not in this matter.

ACT- “We need to do something suicide, my breaking point on this issue, is I’m very uncomfortable with someone that has gone to congress, and I represents the public and we nee to look for another solution…�

Lerner said she realized the program would be scrapped for now, but demanded that the boar make recognition that they support licensed professional mental health care.

Ken Cramer Was one of the organizers who helped rally the citizens objections to Teen screen.

ACT ‘Linda Lerner is the only one who stands to profit..conflict of interest.

Mary Panton is the executive director of the citizens commission on human rights on Florida—which is associated with the church of Scientology

ACT-Mary ’We’ve helped write legislation…80 percent is undectected, psychologists don’t use medical diagnosis, they just vote some symptoms in..�

Although many of those who attended the meeting were scientologists, many of their objections were not based on religion. Martha Conway was one of them.

ACT ‘I’m a parent and the last thing I want is for my daughter to be depressed and put on drugs.

WMNF hopes to speak to Pinellas School board member Linda Lerner later this week for a response.

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