OLYMPIA, Wash. –It was a moment of quiet between floor sessions Thursday for state Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self.
But she says it’s a moment we can’t waste.
“It hits real close to home,” she said.
The pain of watching Wednesday’s news unfold put the Mukilteo Democrat in a painful position.
The Parkland, Florida, shooting took place near where she grew up as a child.
Now she counsels kids at schools when she isn’t in Olympia.
“There's an increase of suicide attempts, of cutting, of kids that are just really hurting and crying out for help,” she said.
During the last legislative session, she proposed legislation that's all the more relevant now and aims to give counselors and psychologists more time with kids at schools.
“Where could we have intervened? Where could a collaborative group of adults with expertise in homelessness, in grief counseling, in academic performance, where could that have happened?” she asked.
Ortiz-Self's bill has already passed the House this session, and has a Senate hearing soon.
Counselors need to counsel, she says.
“But they can`t be totally consumed with just the paperwork. It is about those meetings, face to face, without students and their parents. And sometimes, especially during the recession, that has gotten lost,” Ortiz-Self said.
The bill would shift some of the records burden to other staff in the school---clearing schedules so that disturbed kids in crisis get more help from caregivers.
“When you hear the pain and the hurt repeatedly, again, it hits home,” she said.