Following the murder of 17 students at a Florida high school on Wednesday, the Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction said she had reached out to her counterpart in Florida with a message of prayer and support.

“We sent an email out of our prayers from Montana to the state superintendent,” Arntzen said. “We also sent a text to the president of our council association whom we have done a lot of work with in the Whole Child approach, because what occurred in Florida is the end result of what we should have looked at in that Whole Child aspect of mental health.”

Arntzen expounded on the topic of the Whole Child approach.

“Something happened with that student,” she said. “My understanding is there was an expulsion, there might have been some bullying, and when you get to that end result, that horrific thing that happened, that’s the end. We must have more influence in the very beginning. We must have teachers that understand with more professional development and more counseling tools at their fingertips., more understanding from school boards and school leadership. Something occurred early on that might have tipped off someone, that this may have been averted.”

Arntzen said changing gun laws is not the ultimate answer.

“Heaven forbid that we do anything with any more looking at gun control laws,” she said. “All the things that happen within a school are under the auspices of a school board, who are elected officials,” she said. “They are given that authority through our constitution, as well as the discussion on making our children safe. It’s all wrapped in law. So, it needs to be a local control discussion and not just because of something horrific that happened in another state. It needs to be part of our fabric in public schools.”

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