NGA Actions on School Safety

On Feb. 26, 2018, as part of the NGA Winter Meeting, governors met with the President and discussed many possible approaches to improving school safety. Each governor is developing strategies to best address the safety of children in their state’s schools. This memo captures some of the discussions held at the meeting, as well as ongoing state efforts to promote school safety.

 

School Safety Approaches

  • Governors have worked actively to strengthen the safety and security of our nation’s school environments for students, staff and visitors. Governors continue to promote and implement measures that enhance physical security, including training on lockdown drills and use of security cameras, electronic notification systems, automatic door-locking systems and employee credentials.
  • Governors continue to identify innovative uses of grant funds from federal agencies (e.g., U.S. Department of Education, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security) to support their school safety efforts.
  • States continue to coordinate across their departments of education, homeland security and public safety for school safety preparedness planning and response strategies. For example, governors continue to lead on school safety by engaging education officials on active shooter incidents and hosting roundtables with teachers, parents and other stakeholders to discuss ways to keep students safe. Additionally, numerous state homeland security agencies provide training and assistance to schools to develop emergency operation plans.
  • Some states and schools are exploring implementing or expanding positive behavior supports and interventions.
  • Some states and schools are exploring programs such as “Safe to Tell,” which are active hotlines for students, parents, teachers and the community to report bullying and potential threats to schools

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Safe Handling and Storage of Guns

  • Governors remain dedicated to educating the public around gun safety issues.
  • States continue to engage gun-owners, families, gun shops and shooting ranges on the importance of safe handling and storing of firearms and ammunition.

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Mental Health Interventions

  • States continue to examine the important role that mental health services play in our local communities. Increasing awareness of and access to treatment for mental illness and substance misuse is essential to community health and well-being. Governors are actively pursuing early identification and linkages to treatment, as well as supports for students and families.
  • Five states currently have risk-based gun removal laws, which allow law enforcement to seize firearms from people believed to be in danger to themselves or others. These risk-based policies empower law enforcement and immediate family members to petition a court for protection or restraining order. If a court finds that a person poses a significant danger of injuring himself or others with a firearm, that person is temporarily prohibited from purchasing and possessing guns while the order is in effect. (For more information on enacted and pending legislation, click here.)
  • Some states and schools are exploring increased funding for school psychologists, school counselors, mental health counselors and intervention screening tools.
  • Contact NGA for more state-specific information on school safety. Education: Aaliyah Samuel, asamuel@nga.org; Public Safety: Jeff McLeod, jmcleod@nga.org; Health: Hemi Tewarson, htewarson@nga.org. Members of the media can contact Elena Waskey, ewaskey@nga.org.

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Overall Public Safety

  • School safety is a critical priority in states’ overall public safety planning and strategies.
  • As chief executives of their states, governors play a critical role in improving public safety and ensuring the security of their citizens. Governors routinely convene state and local entities to engage in violence-reduction efforts and discussions.

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Forthcoming NGA Center Activities Related to School Safety

  • The Education Division will host a webinar with governors’ education policy advisors on educational approaches to school safety on March 8 from 3-4 p.m. ET. The webinar will allow NGA staff to hear firsthand about the unique needs of participating states and provide individualized support based on those needs. We also hope to use the information to develop a broader support plan. This conversation will discuss how states can support school-level policies such as providing additional school counselors, whole-child parent and student supports, tracking at-risk students and more. Homeland Security and Public Safety and Health Division staff will sit in on the webinar around school safety to provide the criminal justice/public safety angle.
  • The Homeland Security and Public Safety Division has provided technical assistance to states around school safety, including Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina and Utah.
  • The Homeland Security and Public Safety Division is holding a joint conference call for state public safety executives, governors’ homeland security advisors and criminal justice policy advisors on school safety and violence prevention. This call is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, March 22, at 2 p.m. ET. Education and Health Division staff will also be invited to participate .
  • The Health Division is hosting a meeting, March 27-28, called State Strategies for Averting Early Deaths: Innovations and Best Practices for Preventing Suicide. One session, called “Strategic Partnerships to Prevent Suicide: Law Enforcement and Gun Shops,” will focus on engaging gun shops, gun ranges and gun associations in developing messages that resonate with gun-owners around gun safety and sharing education materials.

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Additional Information

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