A wide-range of officials will work together on a School Safety Task Force, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Thursday morning.
The task force will include representatives from state government, education organizations, law enforcement, community members, school officials, teachers, parents, and students. The group will talk about ways to improve security and safety at schools throughout the state.
“I am creating a school safety task force to ensure we are doing everything we can to make sure that our schools are a safe place for our children to learn. By working together and listening to those on the front lines, we can find solutions that will improve school safety, security, and preparedness,” the governor said.
The governor’s office said the task force will include the following goals:
- 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
The task force, which is headed by Wolf and Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, will hold six regional meetings across the state over the next few months to hear from students, teachers, parents and community members.
“The key here is we need to listen,” the governor said.
State legislators are also expected to be involved with coming up with solutions and putting forward proposals.
The announcement came the day after students in the Council Rock School District and school across the country walked out of classes to remember the lives lost 17 students and staff members killed last month in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Wolf said school shootings have become “part of life in America these days.”
“We just want you to do something,” parents and students have told officials, according to Wolf.
“The kids are right. We politicians have not done enough,” he added.
The governor and auditor general both said the task force will hear perspectives from all sides of the school safety issue.
Wolf’s office opened a website for the public to share their suggestions and thoughts on school safety online. Click here to visit the site.
“There is not a one-size-fits all solution to school safety. We will use our combined expertise to raise the bar for safe schools in Pennsylvania because we must provide a safe learning environment for our current students and protect future generations,” DePasquale said.
Wolf, DePasquale, and the task force plan to release a report in the coming months.
In response to a question from a reporter, the governor said he hopes the report will lead to action and not just sit on a shelf.