The Sitka School Board is sending its suicide prevention policy back to the drawing board — at the request of its student member.

Junior Elias Erickson is the vice-president of the Sitka High student government, and holds a voting seat on the Sitka School Board.

Erickson thought that the district’s suicide prevention policy inadequately addressed the role of parents and guardians in the issue.

He brought forward an alternative perspective.

The Trevor Project is the national leading organization for crisis intervention and suicide prevention, specifically to LGBT youth. And in their model board policy packet regarding suicide and young people, they provided the following commentary on the actual importance of parental involvement when it comes to suicide prevention. “Parents and guardians play a key role in youth suicide prevention, and it is important for the school district to involve them in suicide prevention efforts. Parents and guardians need to be actively involved in decisions involving their child’s welfare. Parents and guardians who learn the warning signs and risk factors for suicide are better equipped to connect their children with professional help when necessary.” So all this being said, I think the policy needs to be expanded to include some sort of involvement for the parents. What exactly, I’m not sure, and that’s what I’d refer to the board and what you guys think. Whether that be suicide awareness and education materials sent home to the parents, or an optional informative parent meeting. Something like that — a provision for parents to be a bit more involved in this.

Board members agreed, and began adding suggestions of their own, such as providing information on resources in the faith community. Superintendent Mary Wegner said that these kinds of details could be included in a so-called AR, or “administrative regulation.”

Board member Jenn McNichol also thought it would be better to separate policy and detail.

“My sense is that we refer to the importance of providing community resource information in the policy, and then in the AR we delineate what some of those community resources might be, such as various online resources, church and religious entities, other community service organizations — because those are frequently subject to change as far as which website, or what’s the name of the counseling service in town these days. I don’t know if we want to codify all that in our policies.”

The board voted unanimously to send the suicide prevention policy back to committee to include the extra emphasis on parents and guardians suggested by Erickson.

In other business Tuesday night:

The school board heard a report from Matthew Turner on his first full year running Community Schools as a contractor for the district. Turner said he had seven part-time employees, and his goal was to run some programs — like youth basketball — on a self-supporting basis, while other programs would continue to run at a loss.

Doug Osborne, with Sitka Community Hospital, presented a program to the board called Tobacco21, about national efforts to raise the minimum legal age to buy tobacco products to 21. The board agreed to draft a resolution in support of his efforts to change the law locally in Sitka. A community town-hall meeting on the issue is scheduled for March 1.

And superintendent Mary Wegner had some mixed news for the board: Blatchley Middle School will be totally out of commission during spring break. She said that an electrical problem resulting from the two-year remodel of the building had finally been identified, and the building would be closed entirely for the repair.

“So no Community Schools, no pool during spring break. However we do feel that this is critical and it’s timely. It took us a while to figure out what was going on. We have figured it out, and thanks to working with all the parties involved we can have that situation fixed. And while Blatchley’s cut down we’ll also be doing some pool tile and and maintenance to take advantage of a time the community couldn’t be in the pool anyway.”

The next school board meeting is 7 p.m. Thursday, February 9, for a Community Budget Hearing in the Sitka High School library.