Mental health a focus at Gahanna school safety discussion

GAHANNA, OH (WCMH) — Another school district met to talk safety in the wake of the Parkland massacre, but Monday’s meeting in Gahanna barely discussed the Second Amendment and chose to focus more on mental health.

Gahanna-Jefferson Superintendent Steve Barrett said his school has a model mental health program. He said addressing students’ mental health needs is one key to keeping schools safe and serves as a proactive measure.

“So much of this is about mental health,” Barrett said. “We want to help all of our kids with social-emotional issues. It’s not just about academics.”

He said the school district has its own team of mental health specialists on staff dedicated to Gahanna students.

“We know people are concerned and we want them to know that our community, our leaders, are making safety a priority for our students, our staff and our teachers,” Barrett said.

Many in attendance at Gahanna Middle School west said they were seeking a peace of mind during the town hall.

“Just to reassure us as parents they’re going to be working on this or if they’re going to do something additional,” said Gahanna dad Mark Smith.

In terms of adding safety measures to school, Barrett said the district is not considering arming teachers, but everything else is on the table; from metal detectors to bulletproof glass.

Gahanna students plan to stage a walkout on March 14 like many other districts in the area and across the country. Barrett said students will not be punished for participating. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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