Editor’s Note: The Frederick News-Post is profiling candidates for various public offices in County Frederick until the July 19 primary election. Each school board profile will include an audio recording of the full interview.
Behavioral health and substance abuse consultant David Brooks said he will focus on mental health, particularly among students with special needs, if elected to the Frederick County Board of Education.
Brooks, owner of Brooks Behavioral Health Services in Frederick, said he will find ways to serve Frederick County public school children who are often neglected, including those with behavioral or academic difficulties.
“I just wanted to help children who were a bit like me,” she said. “Those who fight”.
Brooks went to “alternative school” as a child, he said, and had an individualized educational plan because he stammered.
If elected, he said, he would prioritize special education teacher training and work to provide students with easier access to mental health care. The issue has become more pressing in the wake of the pandemic, he said.
“These are things I know I can go in and help fix,” Brooks said.
Before starting his consulting career, Brooks worked as a teacher for students with autism in his home state of Texas. He worked in behavioral health services for the Frederick County Department of Health and is an adjunct professor at Mount St. Mary’s University, according to his campaign website.
She said her experience managing her own clinic would lend itself well to the responsibilities of a school board member.
“I know how to look ahead and plan for the future financially,” Brooks said.
Brooks said he was concerned about the mental health of staff members, as well as that of the students. He has seen teachers grappling with substance abuse at his own clinic, he said, some of whom said the stress of education work during the pandemic had made their problems worse.
While raising pay may be a way to improve staff recruitment and retention, he said, he will also look for ways to reduce the workload.
As a board member, Brooks said, he would try to reduce class sizes. This would help teachers establish closer relationships with their students, she said, and she hopes it will benefit children’s learning and behavior and reduce teachers’ stress.
Brooks said he will work alongside incoming FCPS superintendent Cheryl Dyson to rebuild trust between the district, council and community. She suggested that council members could hold office hours to allow parents to ask questions about their decisions and receive timely responses.
“The most important thing is to be available,” he said. “I think that’s the problem, it’s that a lot of people don’t talk anymore.”
Brooks has prioritized conversations with voters since applying, he said.
Although he entered the race later than most of the other candidates, Brooks said he learned a lot in the two months he spent the campaign. He contrasted himself and other candidates on the ground, some of whom he claimed were politically motivated.
“I’m not a politician,” Brooks said. “I’m just a worried parent.”
Brooks’ wife is an alternate at FCPS and her four children have traveled through the district. One of his children was bullied at school, Brooks said, citing the experience as another factor that inspired him to run.
“It’s about passion. I don’t know why other candidates run. I don’t even care, honestly, “she said.” I’m running for one place and one place.
The other candidates running for the school board are: Nancy A. Allen, Olivia Angolia, Liz Barrett, Ysela Bravo, Heather Fletcher, Rae Gallagher, Mark Joannides, April Marie Montgomery, Ashley A. Nieves, Tiffany M. Noble, Rayna T. Remondini, Cindy Rose, Dean Rose, Justi Thomas and Karen Yoho.