Kenyatta seeks passage of 'Phillip’s Law'

Encourages Pennsylvanians to join the call for action

HARRISBURG, June 12 – State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., today announced the formal introduction of bipartisan legislation aimed at ensuring adequate mental health resources for students in public schools.

Known as “Phillip’s Law,” the bill (H.B. 1622) would require the Department of Education to investigate the number of school mental health professionals available to students, as well as make recommendations on how to increase their numbers to meet nationally accepted levels. It was introduced by Kenyatta and state Reps. Wendi Thomas, R-Bucks, and Joanna McClinton, D-Phila.

Kenyatta suggested the legislation following the death of an 11-year-old student from his district, Phillip, who committed suicide after school. The child’s family said he urgently tried to get the attention of support staff but was unable to connect. 

“When an 11-year-old takes his life, everyone must take stock of how and why children can get that far in their despair,” Kenyatta said. “The tragedy of Phillip’s passing sheds light on the fact that school mental health professionals are not always available or equipped to identify and intervene when a child is suffering. In fact, there is no mandate for schools to retain mental health staff, and there certainly is not enough funding provided for it. But there should be.”

Kenyatta recently created an action item on his website, www.pahouse.com/Kenyatta, to give Pennsylvanians the opportunity to reach out to legislative leaders and their own state lawmakers, asking them to send Phillip’s Law to Gov. Tom Wolf for his signature. He is encouraging people to visit the page and act on behalf of Phillip, as well as the countless number of other children who may have better outcomes with this legislation in place. 

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 15-34. As in Phillip’s case, children even younger than 15 are now taking their own lives.

More information on Phillip’s Law is available by contacting Kenyatta’s office.