Maury County Began Illegal Mental Health Assessments On Students, Over $300 Thousand Spent On SEL

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The Tennessee Conservative [By Paula Gomes] –

Maury County Public Schools began mental health assessments on children as young as 8 years old without first getting permission from parents. After realizing that parents had not been notified, the assessments were halted according to school counselor Aimee Pedersen. In an email sent to parents, Pedersen said that “all responses and data were deleted.” The assessments will resume after Fall Break.

Maury County Public Schools is partnering with Rethink Ed, a “one-stop online solution that enables districts, schools, and teachers to bring a methodical, research-based approach to social and emotional instruction.” The district is using part of its ESSER funding to pay for the “mental health and wellness program” – they have earmarked $343,800 for mental health purposes that include counselors and curriculum support.

In the email, parents are informed that “research clearly shows that social and emotional learning is a key component to positive outcomes in school.”

Teachers will use a student formative self-assessment tool developed by the Educational Records Bureau. Students complete the assessment using a five-point rating scale. 

Sample questions include:

• I know how my teachers expect me to behave

• I work very well with other students

• I can concentrate in class for long periods of time

• When I feel sad or angry, I understand why I feel that way

Students in third grade through 12th grade will be assessed twice yearly unless parents opt out. 

The district says that the data will not be shared with any outside entity but instead will be utilized by school counselors and teachers to develop lesson plans for classroom instruction.

Parents who wish to opt out must return the letter of notification to their child’s school counselor before September 30th.

Some Maury County parents say that social and emotional guidance is the territory of parents, not teachers. Others, who have left more progressive states, are sounding the alarm over Social Emotional Learning (SEL) programs that they say will lead to Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Diversity Equity Inclusion (DEI) being taught in the classroom. 

In light of the new school funding formula, TISA, that funds based on needs, some parents think the assessments are a tactic to get more funding redistributed to the district.

Sources tell us that one student who was given the initial assessment was upset by some of the questions that said he should keep them from his parents. The Tennessee Conservative has asked for a copy of the survey questions but has not yet been given a response to that request.

All school districts in Tennessee that took ESSER III funds must incorporate SEL programs into their curriculum.

TN Liberty Network published a white paper earlier this year that shows how the third round of ESSER funds are tied to SEL in K-12 schools.

According to Tennessee’s plan on the state website, the Department of Education “recognizes that the safe return to in-person instruction must be accompanied by a focus on meeting students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs…”

Tennessee Code 49-2-124 ensures that parents may refuse consent for mental health screenings, evaluations, testing or examinations. T.C.A 49-2-211 states that every LEA must have a policy that allows parents to review all surveys prior to being administered to students.

About the Author: Paula Gomes is a Tennessee resident and reporter for The Tennessee Conservative. You can reach Paula at

6 thoughts on “Maury County Began Illegal Mental Health Assessments On Students, Over $300 Thousand Spent On SEL

  • September 23, 2022 at 5:58 pm

    Another FAIL for pubic ejikashun.
    If it begins with psy, it AIN’T “of God”.

  • September 23, 2022 at 10:09 pm

    ESSERIII funds from federal government
    This is crazy, a students feelings are not a teachers or school boards job
    Have a problem CALL A PARENT.
    These weak rinos are going to help the dem/Marxists subjugate our state and country
    For every federal cent these idiot counties took that same amount needs to deducted from their state funding


  • September 23, 2022 at 10:18 pm

    Hey Molly. The program was designed to try and prevent the next school shooter before it happens by identifying bullying and socially distortion before it balloons into another national tragedy. If memory serves, it’s conservatives who keep saying, “it’s not a gun problem, it’s a mental health problem”. Now you don’t like the conservative solution?! You’re a hypocrite.

  • September 23, 2022 at 10:49 pm

    SEL programs aren’t there to help children. They are there to indoctrinate them. Schools need to stick to teaching the basics. Tennessee has only around 35% of 3rd graders at grade level. That is a major problem!

  • September 25, 2022 at 3:39 pm

    Blake R.
    “…parents were not notified…”
    I don’t believe it was an oversight too many educators truly believe that parental knowledge or permission blocks indoctrination
    Behavior issues in schools must start by involving the legal guardian for after school remedies or treatment
    SEL,etc; should not be a schools pervue.
    What I am saying, looking to the federal govt for $$$ programs or testing is just one of the major problems effecting education in America
    Yes, conservatives often grab hold of the lowest limb, just to move an issue further down the path of least resistance so they can say ” look what we did”


    • September 27, 2022 at 7:44 pm

      There is ZERO indoctrination. Educate yourself on what SEL is then tell me where the indoctrination is. You’re the kind of person that would find indoctrination in a Mister Rogers episode. Not everything is a left-wing conspiracy. Believe it or not, some people just want to help kids become good adults.


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