Three mental health staffers were unlicensed simultaneously

Updated: Feb. 29, 2016 at 12:19 p.m.

Three staffers in the Mental Health Services office were unlicensed at the same time in 2015.

Sarah Harte, an assistant director, was unlicensed for more than three months in 2015, according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. She was one of three people unlicensed in the center during at that time, including former MHS director Silvio Weisner.

Harte was unlicensed from March 1 to June 19, after she had applied for a license on April 29, according to the documents.

She was asked to pay a $150 fine to the D.C. Department of Health to receive her license, according to the documents. Harte was issued a license on June 19, 2015, according to a D.C. Department of Health website.

“In light of the information provided and reviewed, the Board has elected not to take a formal disciplinary action against the applicant,” according to a copy of the settlement agreement.

Weisner resigned in September, and Missy Rand, an associate director in MHS, resigned unannounced around the same time after she was also unlicensed to practice.

The family of a freshman who died by suicide on campus in 2014 sued GW last month for negligence after he visited the counseling center several times before his death. While the student did not see Weisner, Weisner was unlicensed at that time, according to a copy of the lawsuit. The family is suing for $15 million in damages.

The D.C. Department of Health reinstated Weisner’s D.C. license in November. Five current and former clinicians submitted formal complaints to the health department about Weisner’s unlicensed status, according to documents obtained through a FOIA request.

Candace Smith, a University spokeswoman, said GW has since adopted “enhanced procedures” to ensure clinicians have the appropriate licenses. She declined to comment on what exactly those procedures include.

She said officials took “immediate action” when they found Weisner was unlicensed and his position was immediately filled by an interim director. Gillian Berry, who was formerly an associate director in MHS, is serving as the interim director.

“Other Mental Health Services staff were and are in place to lead the office, and they are committed to providing the best possible support for our students,” Smith said in an email.

Louise Douce, the special assistant to the vice president of student life at the Ohio State University who oversaw counseling services, said as the director of a counseling program she required all employed clinicians to submit their updated licenses to an administrative assistant in the center.

“I used to require that people submit their renewals to the administrative assistant, but I didn’t do that until someone practiced without a license,” Douce said.

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