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This article was originally published by the Mankato Free Press and is being republished with permission from the Author:

By Joe Steck Mankato Dec 31, 2023

I recently encountered a video on social media depicting a student at Mankato East High School leading another student on a leash, the latter crawling on hands and knees. While this incident itself is concerning, it points to a deeper issue of mental health among students.

A rising trend of drug use within our district is also alarming, yet there seems to be a lack of awareness and resources to address these mental health challenges.

Engagements with School Board members and district officials often reveal a disturbing combination of denial and powerlessness regarding these matters. They must realize that these issues result from flawed policies and reluctance to communicate transparently, occasionally resorting to intimidation over concerns about the school’s image and financial implications.

To address these challenges effectively, I suggest these actionable steps:

  • Move district cabinet members and the superintendent from isolated government offices to school buildings, fostering better interaction with the community they serve.
  • Urge school board members to volunteer actively with at-risk students, gaining a deeper understanding of their needs.
  • Implement and uphold firm discipline policies.
  • Empower teachers and staff with the liberty to advocate for their students.

These incidents, whether they involve students being led on leashes or struggling with drug addiction, are glaring indicators of potential underlying mental health crises and an inability to manage emotions effectively.

Navigating the complexities of raising children today demands our collective attention and proactive involvement. 

We need leaders willing to work alongside their students and staff, not merely issue directives from a board room. 

This hands-on leadership approach is vital in effectively addressing the challenges we face. 

According to the Office of the Revisor of Statutes Section 123B.09 MN Statutes the independent school board has the ability to adopt rules. It is time for the board to stop hiding behind the excuse that their job is to “govern” and not “manage” and to take action.

Joe Steck