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Bartow middle schoolers' alleged mass murder plot raises mental health concerns in schools

Posted: 4:43 PM, Oct 25, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-25 17:58:23-04

BARTOW, Fla. — As the chilling details of two Bartow middle schoolers’ alleged mass murder plot sets in, many are wondering how it escalated to such a horrific level.

Whether they truly intended to follow through, no one knows. But Bartow Police believe messages and weapons support an 11 and 12-year-olds’ plan to kill fellow students

State senator Bill Montford is CEO for the Florida Association of District School Superintendents. For three years in a row, the group has voted that mental health is a top concern in schools.

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“You can always trace it back to something and it is mental health,” Montford said.

The group of superintendents has already hosted multiple mental health summits in recent years to discuss concerns and feasible actions for the mental health of students in Florida. He said cases like Bartow and Parkland are a reflection of the burden teachers face. 

“If you really want to get a good handle on the mental health issue, talk to some of our teachers in our classrooms,” Montford said. “We have psychologists and psychiatrists who go to school and they get a degree in this. Our teachers did not get a degree in  psychology, not all of them, but they have got to be trained.”

A former superintendent and teacher, Montford believes funding and attention are necessary in Florida schools.

“It is not a school issue; it is a community issue; it’s a state issue,” Montford said. “We have a moral obligation to do something.”