A cry for help answered

— “It’s the school’s obligation and responsibility to look after their students and advocate,” said Weisenberg. “The purpose of this legislation is to prevent this happening to any other child.”

Jerry was on antidepressant and mood stabilizing medications. There was a history of mental illness in his family. One day, he was found crying in the hallway and the school psychologist wrote a letter to his father saying she “feared for Jerry’s life” if he was suspended and kicked off the wrestling team.

Clark believes those factors should have warranted a special education evaluation, which could have offered Jerry alternatives to suspension, like home schooling or tutoring.

An alternative to suspension meant Jerry wouldn’t have been kicked off the wrestling team, said Clark, which might have prevented his suicide.

“He said, ‘Please don’t take my life away from me. Wrestling is the only thing that’s going right in my life,’” said Clark. “(Voorheesville Superintendent Teresa Snyder) took his wrestling away and shortly after he hung himself.”

Snyder wouldn’t say much on the matter, calling it a violation of student privacy to talk about it. What she would say is that the situation has been misconstrued.

“It’s a blatant misrepresentation of the school district’s role. People are well aware of what their rights are,” said Snyder.

Snyder said Clark’s claim that the family was not provided information about access to special education services is inaccurate.

“Their information was not correct. People are made aware. That particular family, they were aware,” said Snyder.

Still, Clark maintains the family was not aware. Hence, the waiting game she was playing on Friday morning as she waited to see if the bill had passed. Sometime before noon she received word it had unanimously passed in the Assembly. She was “ecstatic.”

By the end of the day, she learned it failed to pass in the Senate, but vowed to continue fighting for it to be reintroduced in January.

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