Carroll County schools appoint mental health coordinator as part of Maryland Safe to Learn Act

Emily Chappell
Contact ReporterCarroll County Times

The Carroll County Public Schools Board of Education approved the appointment of a mental health coordinator, a position that came out of the Maryland Safe to Learn Act, and will be funded through grants from the state in its first year.

The school board unanimously approved the appointment of Amy Jagoda, a current 12-month school psychologist in CCPS, to the position.

Dana Falls, director of student services with CCPS, said in an interview with the Carroll County Times this week, Jagoda has a lot of experience as a school psychologist, and also has done a lot of leadership in the field.

“She’ll be a good fit, I’m pretty confident in that,” Falls said.

Jagoda said she’s been with CCPS for 14 years, and has worked all over the county from Taneytown to the southern portion to Westminster. Right now, she said, She’s working in Carrolltown and Friendship Valley elementary schools.

Jagoda also said she maintains the PRIDE program, something she will continue to do under the new position.

During last year’s legislative session, the Maryland General Assembly moved forward with the Maryland Safe to Learn Act, which, while dealing with school resource officers, also has a strong focus on mental health help for students. Falls told the Times in November that the law requires each school to have a coordinator of mental health services, something Kim Muniz, the supervisor of school psychology, and Judy Klinger, the supervisor of school counseling, had been sharing the responsibilities of.

“It’s a really exciting position,” Jagoda said.

In this job, she said, she is responsible for ensuring students who need mental health services.

“It’s a pretty lofty responsibility. We have a lot of kids with a lot of needs,” she said.

Jagoda said through this position, she will not only work with other mental health providers in the schools, but also with outside agencies. Her new job will coordinate all of the links they have in place now and strengthen them, she added.

Another portion of her job will threat assessment, Jagoda said, and there will be a lot of work to align the current school policy with that of the Maryland State Department of Education.

Jagoda said the school system started applying for the grant to fund this position in August, and over the months, it was revised several times before approval. But while it’s grant funded, she said Superintendent Steve Lockard sees it as a “long-term piece.”

“That will be coming up in budget talks,” she added.

Falls, in an interview with the Times this week, said CCPS will likely open up Jagoda’s former 12-month program to 10-month candidates internally, and then hire externally to fill a 10-month position.

Jagoda said helping these students has always been an interest of hers. As a school psychologist, she said, she works with many of the school system’s neediest kids, especially those in the PRIDE program, who are dealing with severe social, emotional and behavioral concerns.

“They need a lot of support and they need wrap around services,” she said.

And after having worked in the field and been able to see what all of the problems are, Jagoda is excited to get a chance to hold a higher position and make a difference at the system level.

“That’s very rewarding,” she added.

emily.chappell@carrollcountytimes.com

410-857-7862

twitter.com/EmilyChappell13

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