Chaplains not for public schools

State Rep. Reggie Stoltzfus, R-Paris Twp., is primary sponsor for a bill that takes an unusual approach to the lack of student support services in some Ohio schools. House Bill 240 would allow public schools in the Buckeye State to employ chaplains.

Yes, you read that right. Stoltzfus believes students and staff need more community-based support in times of adversity, according to a report by News 5 Cleveland, and he believes chaplains can provide it.

“I imagine these people are going to be very well known in the communities and very well trusted,” Stoltzfus told the news station.

It would be too easy to point out the First Amendment problem of hiring a faith-based employee to tackle such a job. In fact, it is impossible to believe Stoltzfus hasn’t already thought of that, and brushed past it.

But Scott DiMauro, president of the Ohio Education Association, makes a point lawmakers can’t ignore.

“Absolutely the wrong way to approach this issue would be to lower standards of quality, lower professional standards, and have people who aren’t appropriately trained doing work in terms of mental health support for students in a way that could potentially cause more harm than good,” he said.

Given there are two significant reasons to let this one die, in times past Ohioans might have been able to sit back and not worry about it. After all, it hasn’t even received a hearing. But:

“This kind of extreme legislation seems to be finding its way to the floor, and when it gets to the floor, it gets the votes,” said Rep. Casey Weinstein, D-Hudson. “So, it’s something that I think we need to be very proactive in how we communicate to our representatives about. This is dangerous and a huge overreach and an infringement on parental rights and student rights.”

The needs of all students demand well-trained, certified counseling professionals to support them. Let your representatives know this one shouldn’t stand a chance.


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