Power of Protest: Community Mobilization Compels School Board to Reinstate Mental Health Services

In a heated special meeting of the Ramapo-Indian Hills School Board, the board’s decision from last week not to continue funding their mental health services faced a firestorm of criticism. Ultimately, public mobilization for these services forced the board to reverse course.

The meeting, attended by a larger-than-usual public turnout, which led to an extended public comment period, brought forward passionate voices from the community. Parents, students, and education professionals alike raised concerns about potential breaches of student privacy, voiced objection to the board’s decision to cancel the Thrive mental health program without community approval, and accused the board of prioritizing hardware upgrades over more fundamental needs like mental health.

One of the most powerful voices at the meeting was that of a 15-year-old former participant in Thrive who described the program as “life-saving.” A strong endorsement also came from parents who had seen the positive impact of the program on their children’s academic progress and emotional well-being. One parent shared her daughter’s story, explaining how Thrive enabled her to continue her education despite mental health issues, thus avoiding expensive out-of-district placement. These testimonials highlighted the human cost behind the board’s decisions and the vital role mental health support plays in academic success.

The Superintendent proposed several resolutions related to mental health and special needs programs, emphasizing that rejecting the continuation of the Thrive program could negatively impact students’ mental health, academic progress, and the school’s budget. He further introduced Resolution E8 for staff wellness training and certification through Thrive and Resolution E11 to approve Care Solace, a digital tool to facilitate parental access to mental health services.

Yet, some board members defended their controversial votes against the program, asserting concerns about implementation and clarity. Board member Kim Ansh detailed her concerns over the lack of clarity about what she was voting against. Marianna Emmolo claimed that she was not rejecting mental health resources, but concerned for ‘students’ privacy rights’.

However, the community seemed to resonate with a different perspective. Resident Mae Bogdansky urged the board to put aside personal agendas and consider their role as community representatives. Echoing these sentiments, Amy Eiler emphasized the importance of mental health for scholastic success.

Towards the meeting’s end, the board was criticized for alleged violations of the Open Public Meeting Act, with some attendees accusing members of arranging votes behind the scenes to cater to political interests.

Ultimately, the board passed motions on the consolidated agenda, which included the contentious matter of mental health services.

Tensions were heightened when two board members, Doreen Mariani and Vivian Yudin King, clashed over allegations of personal attacks and discussions of mental health. The meeting ended with the board deciding against additional comments and moving to close the meeting.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Not avaliable:

School Board Officials:

Receive debriefs about local meetings in your inbox weekly:

Trending meetings
across the country:

Meeting Date
Filter by bodytypes
Agricultural Advisory Committee
Airport Advisory Board
Art and Culture Board
Beach Committee
Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Committee
Board of Elections
Board of Health
Borough Council
Building Committee
Cannabis Control Board
Cemetery Commission
Charter Revision Commission
Child and Family Services Board
City Council
City Identity Committee
Code Enforcement Board
College Board of Trustees
Community Appearance Board
Community Preservation Committee
Community Redevelopment Agency
County Council
Disability Advisory Committee
Economic Development Board
Elderly Affairs Board
Electric Advisory Board
Environmental Commission
Financial Oversight Board
Historic Preservation Commission
Housing Authority
Human Relations Committee
Insurance Fund
Land Use Board
Library Board
Licensing Board
Mental Health Commission
Municipal Alliance
Open Space Commission
Oversight and Review Committee
Parking Authority
Parks and Gardens Commission
Parks Commission
Pension Board
Planning Board
Police Review Board
Property Assessment Board
Public Safety Committee
Recreation Commission
Redevelopment Agency
Rent Control Board
Rent Leveling Board
School Board
Sewerage Authority
Shade Tree Commission
Special Magistrate
Taxation & Revenue Advisory Committee
Tourism Board
Trails Committee
Transportation Board
Utility Board
Value Adjustment Board
Veterans Committee
Water Control Board
Women's Advisory Committee
Youth Advisory Committee
Zoning Board
Filter by County
FL
Bay County
Bradford County
Brevard County
Broward County
Clay County
Duval County
Escambia County
Gulf County
Hendry County
Highlands County
Hillsborough County
Indian River County
Lake County
Lee County
Leon County
Levy County
Liberty County
Manatee County
Marion County
Martin County
Miami-Dade County
Monroe County
Okaloosa County
Orange County
Osceola County
Palm Beach County
Pasco County
Pinellas County
Polk County
Putnam County
Santa Rosa County
Sarasota County
Seminole County
St. Johns County
Taylor County
Volusia County
Walton County
MA
Barnstable County
Berkshire County
Bristol County
Essex County
Franklin County
Hampden County
Hampshire County
Middlesex County
Norfolk County
Plymouth County
Suffolk County
Worcester County
NJ
Atlantic County
Bergen County
Burlington County
Camden County
Cape May County
Cumberland County
Essex County
Gloucester County
Hudson County
Hunterdon County
Mercer County
Middlesex County
Monmouth County
Morris County
Ocean County
Passaic County
Somerset County
Sussex County
Union County
Warren County
Filter by sourcetypes
Minutes
Recording