Pennsylvania’s School Safety Task Force met today at the Central York School District Office in York to kick off a series of regional meetings to hear from students, parents, school officials, law enforcement, healthcare experts and residents about ways to improve school safety and security.
“Students and adults throughout Pennsylvania and our nation have built a movement for change,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “We must use that passion to deliver real solutions that build on the work of law enforcement and schools to keep students safe. That begins by listening to the ideas and needs from small towns to our big cities that will improve school safety and preparedness.”
Auditor General Eugene DePasquale is co-chairing the task force that includes: Charles Ramsey, chairman of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency; Mark DiRocco, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators; Bonita Allen, President of the Pennsylvania Parent Teacher Association; and Judy Morgitan, Immediate Past President of the Pennsylvania Association of School Nurses and Practitioners.
“We need the experience and advice of everyone if we are to ensure our schools are safe havens for student education and safe from dangerous people intent on doing harm,” said Auditor General DePasquale. “It was especially good today to hear the thoughts and ideas of students. The most students should ever have to worry about in school is a pop quiz in biology class, not whether they will be able to survive the school day.”
The task force will hold six meetings throughout Pennsylvania to gather perspectives from different communities before issuing a final report by the end of June. The priorities for the task force are:
• Hearing from school officials, teachers, parents, students, law enforcement, health professionals, and community partners about their concerns with safety and potential policy changes;
• Determining additional funding needs for the Office for Safe Schools, security and safety personnel, school counselors and nurses, and additional or upgraded security equipment;
• Examining effectiveness of student support and physical and mental health programs and information sharing;
• Evaluating stronger state requirements for active shooter trainings and other security protocols, including current programs offered by the Pennsylvania State Police and other state agencies;
• Strengthening information and best practice sharing among local schools, law enforcement, health care providers, and human services programs; and
• Examining new or existing tools to ensure easy and effective anonymous reporting of suspicious activity to law enforcement.
Supporting the work of the task force are Homeland Security Director Marcus Brown, Education Secretary Pedro Rivera, Health Secretary and Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine, Labor and Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak, and Acting Colonel Robert Evanchick, Pennsylvania State Police.
The public is invited to share their recommendations for improving schools security online at https://www.governor.pa.gov/school-safety-feedback/. The task force will use the feedback when preparing a final report.