Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio made a call for change on Thursday, five days after a Kerrick Elementary student took his own life.
“We're grieving a ten-year-old boy who had a vibrant and caring personality,” Dr. Pollio said in a news conference.
Seven Bridges, 10, was found dead by suicide over the weekend. His mother blames ongoing bullying at school and on the bus.
“We've got a lot of work to do, there's no doubt about it.”
Bridges was the 8th student to take his own life this school year. Dr. Pollio presented new strategies to make sure there's not a ninth.
“Every JCPS will have access to a mental health professional for the 2019-20 school year,” he explained.
He said he wants JCPS to host a summit on suicide prevention that will include more training for all JCPS administrators.
He's made a push to increase the number of staff members who review bulling complaints.
He also said he wants the district to provide new ways for parents to contact the central office directly to report bullying, instead of going to individual school administrators.
“They have woefully failed to protect our children,” said Reverend Gerome Sutton an hour before Dr. Pollio announced the plan.
The Louisville church leader stood in front of the JCPS Van Hoose central office demanding he resign.
“They have failed on at least 8 occasions to protect our children and it's not time to talk about 'they're going to do something,' something oughta have been done,” he explained.
Dr. Pollio pointed out: Every single school in JCPS has a designated person who is a suicide prevention leader in the building to help students and families.
“We've seen really good progress so far, but I think this is something we'll really have to work on and we will continue to do that work,” Dr. Pollio said.
There are already counselors in schools that provide bullying prevention training and parents and students are also encouraged to call the bullying prevention tip line at: 888-393-6780.