COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A Facebook post in a concerned citizens of Columbus forum garnered more than 200 comments in less than 24 hours.
The post, from a Muscogee County parent, asked about a behavioral and emotional screening system for students.
According to the Muscogee County School District, the behavior and Emotional Screening System (BESS) addresses each student’s daily activities in relation to their social, emotional, and behavioral functioning. It then places children in one of three tiers based on the results.
Kevin Webb is the father of two children in the Muscogee County School District. He received papers in the mail informing him and his wife of the results of the behavior and emotional screening system his two sons participated in. His five-year-old deemed tier one and his eight-year-old deemed tier three.
“And so on the one that was marked more negatively,” Webb said, “which was the tier three, attached to that was a series of resource documents for sexual assault, child abuse, suicide awareness, and mental health hospitals.”
Webb said the documents he received give no context as to what the tiers mean and how his children were assessed.
Muscogee County School Spokeswoman Mercedes Parham said the screening was approved by the board to support a state-mandated “multi-tiered system of support”. According to the Georgia Department of Education website - that support system is designed to better develop education and programs for students.
Parham said the county sent out information twice in November, giving parents the opportunity to opt-out of the screening by sending in a written statement.
“We should as parents have to explicitly opt our children in,” Webb said, “and not just accidentally or miss it somehow and they’re in this program you’re not aware of.”
Webb’s Facebook post generated more than 200 comments, leading to an online discussion. Some parents recall seeing information about this screening, while others do not. Many of the questions about this screening can be answered by looking at a “Frequently Asked Questions” document Parham said was distributed to all parents.