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Wallingford BOE rejects survey on student homelessness

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WALLINGFORD — The Board of Education has declined to participate in a state survey on youth homelessness, citing student privacy issues.

Aimee Turner, pupil personnel services director, presented information on the statewide survey at a school board subcommittee meeting Jan. 7.

Turner said the survey would have been optional, anonymous and offered by counselors at the end of January in the high schools on state-provided tablets in the cafeteria during lunch.

She said that the goal of the survey—for high school students ages 16-20—would have been to identify teens and young adults experiencing homelessness or housing instability.

It would give the state current data on Wallingford’s needs, whether it’s for housing, food, access to jobs or transportation.

The seven board members who attended the meeting—Kathy Castelli and Patrick Reynolds were absent—unanimously voted not to participate in the survey.

Several board members brought up the middle school risky behavior survey, saying that parents should be able to look at the survey questions first. 

According to the school district policy on surveys, parents “have the right to inspect, upon their request, a survey created by a third party before the survey is administered or distributed by a school to a student.”

Other concerns expressed by board members were about questions aimed at older kids about arrest records and enlistment in the armed forces, and if there would be enough privacy in the cafeteria and time at lunch to complete it.

Survey info

Turner said at the meeting that a collaborative team of several state agencies created the survey and asked public schools to administer the voluntary survey on youth homelessness.

It’s unclear which state agencies make up the team. Turner was not available for comment Monday.

“They are just … getting a sense of the needs in Connecticut,” Turner said last week, “so we can provide more information to our social agencies so they can build up the supports to provide support.”

Wallingford staff wouldn’t see the student responses, which would have been submitted electronically directly to the state, she said.

At the end of the survey would have been contact information of resources for students seeking support.

She said that this is the third year of the student homelessness survey, but Wallingford has yet to administer it.

She said there are no direct state funds directly tied to survey results, but the state would have new information about Wallingford, which she said is one of the least-supported towns when it comes to student homelessness.

“At least they’ll know that Wallingford is needier than what they thought it was before, that would be the ultimate benefit,” she said.

Twitter: @LCTakores


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