Brooks would focus on mental health and family engagement in the school board

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June 17—Editor’s Note: The Frederick News-Post profiles candidates for various public offices in Frederick County ahead of the July 19 primary election. Each school board profile will include an audio recording of the full interview.

The Frederick News-Post — In the booth with Board of Education nominee David Brooks

Behavioral health and addictions counselor David Brooks said he would focus on mental health, particularly for students with special needs, if elected to the Frederick County School Board.

Brooks, owner of Brooks Behavioral Health Services in Frederick, said he will find ways to serve Frederick County public school children who are often overlooked, including those with behavioral or academic challenges.

“I just wanted to help kids who were kind of like me growing up,” he said. “Those who struggle.”

Brooks attended an “alternative school” as a child, he said, and had an individualized education plan because he stuttered.

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 that I know I can come in and help fix,” Brooks said.

Before beginning her career in counseling, Brooks worked as a teacher for students with autism in her home state of Texas. He worked in behavioral health services for the Frederick County Health Department and is an adjunct professor at Mount St. Mary’s University, according to his campaign website.

He said his experience running his 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 expressed concern for the mental health of staff members, as well as that of students. He has seen teachers struggling with substance abuse in his clinic, he said – some of whom said the stress of working in education during the pandemic had compounded their problems.

While increasing pay could be a way to improve staff recruitment and retention, he said, he would also look for ways to reduce workload.

As a board member, Brooks said, he would try to reduce class sizes. This would help teachers build closer relationships with their students, he said, which he hoped would benefit children’s learning and behavior and reduce teacher stress.

Brooks said he will work alongside new FCPS superintendent Cheryl Dyson to rebuild trust between the district, council and community. He suggested council members could hold office hours to allow parents to ask questions about their decisions and receive timely answers.

“The most important thing is just to be available,” he said. “I think that’s the problem is that a lot of people don’t talk anymore.”

Brooks has prioritized conversations with voters since filing, he said.

Although he entered the race later than most other candidates, Brooks said he learned a lot in the roughly two months he spent campaigning. He opposed himself and other candidates in the field, some of whom he said were politically motivated.

“I’m not a politician,” Brooks said. “I’m just a worried parent.”

Brooks’ wife is a substitute teacher at FCPS and his four sons have come through the district. One of her sons was bullied at school, Brooks said, citing the experience as another factor that inspired her run.

“It’s about passion. I don’t know why other candidates are running. Honestly, I don’t care,” he said. “I’m running for one seat, and one seat only.”

The other school board contestants 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.

Follow Jillian Atelsek on Twitter: @jillian_atelsek

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