School Safety – A School to Prison Pipeline

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The Commission is deeply troubed that the Guidance, while well-intentioned, may have paradocically contributed to making schools less safe.

Topics: School Discipline |Racial Disparity | A School-to-Prison Pipeline

Trump School Safety Commission Recommends Rescinding Obama-Era School Discipline Policies
On The Five #12182018

Final Report of the Federal Commission on School Safety

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Letter of Transmittal

December 18, 2018

The President
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

Our nation’s schools must be safe places to learn. Sadly, incidents of school violence are too common in the United States, and far too many families and communities have suffered.

Following the School shooting in Parkland, FL, you established the Federal Commission on School Safety. You tasked the Commission with producing a report of policy recommendations in an effort to help prevent future tragedies.

Our work included field visits, listening sessions, and meetins with anyone and everyone who is focused on identifying and elevating solutions. After learning from students, parents, teachers, school safety personnel, law enforcement officers, mental health professionals, and others who play a role in keeping students safe, we have developed recommendations for leaders at the local, state and federal levels. Our key observations and recommendations are included in this report. Our goal has been to identify local, state, and federal policy for lawmakers and local officials to consider. The report’s recommendations can assist states and local communities in preventing school violence and improving recovery efforts following an incident.

There is no universal school safety plan that will work for every school across the country. Such a prescriptive approach by the federal government would be inappropriate, imprudent, and ineffective. We focused instead on learning more about, and then raising awareness of, ideas that are already working for communities across the country. That is why the Commission’s work and recommendations focus on a variety of school sizes, structures, and geographic locations.

The federal government can play a role in enhancing safety in schools. However, state legislators should work with local school leaders, teachers, parents, and students themselves to address their own unique challenges and develop their own specific solutions. What may work in one community may or may not be the right approach in another. Each local problem needs local solutions. Rather than mandate what schools must do, this reports serves to identify options that policymakers should explore.

Ultimately, ensuring the safety of our children begins within ourselves, at the kitchen table, in houses of worship, and in community centers. The recommendations within this report do not and cannot supplant the role families have in our culture and in the lives of chilfren. Our country’s moral fabric needs more threads of love, empathy, and connection.

Together with states, local communities, and families, we can all continue working to uphold our promise to keep students safe as they pursue their futures at school.


Sincerely,
Betsy DeVos, Secretary
U.S. Department of Education
Chair, Federal Commission on School Safety

Alex M. Azar II, Secretary
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Kirstjen M. Nielsen, Secretary
U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Matthew Whitaker, Acting Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice


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Recommendations: States should consider sponsoring additional research to determine how best to prevent adolescents from unlawfully accessing firearms.

The Commission has repeatedly encouraged all who have an interest in school safety to submit their recommendations and views at safety@ed.gov for consideration by the Commission.

Three broad recommendation categories:
a)

  1. Prevent – preventing school violence;
  2. Protect and Mitigate – protecting students and teachers and mitigating the effects of violence; and
  3. Respond and Recover – responding to and recovering from attacks.

Another recommentation: encourage states to adopt laws permitting “extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs), which can prevent individuals who pose a threat to themselves or others from posessing or purchasing firearms.

Dr. Paul Gausman, Superintendent of the Sioux City Community School district, shared with the Commission some successful strategies in his district for addressing cyberbullying. The district collaborates with a company to scan potential social media threats and receive actionamble alerts.

Recommendations following the Parkland shooting similarly included the need for proactive social media monitoring protocols to identify threats and at-risk behavious.

Sioux City also has an online reporting tool for parents and communit members to raise concerns. This serves as a significant tool given that a lot of bullying, including cyberbullying, goes unreported and that cyberbullying is a community-based problem.

In addition, Gausman spoke about his district’s digital citizenship courses for freshmen and reward systems that encourage appropriate social media use.

  1. The White House and all federal departments and agencies should adopt the principles of the “No Notoriety campaign”. This helps keep the focus on the facts and the victims and does not mention the names or publish photos of perpetrators once they are apprehended.
  2. State, local and school leaders play a critical role in developing any crisis preparedness, response, and recovery plan. They should include a media plan as well. Those who have already done so should continually review and revise their plans.
    The media portion of these plans can cover a number of issues, including:
    who will talk to the press after a tragedy,
    what information should be released (including considerations for the level of detail, existing safety measures, and details about any forthcoming notifications to families),
    how to communicate through a variety of media vehicles (e.g., press converence, press release, social media), and
    when designated individuals should talk to the media, including if families should be contacted first and when media are permitted to enter school grounds.

National and local media outlets should consider adopting the “No Notoriety” campaign.
State and local authorities should consider employing the principles of “No Notoriety” when communicating the facts of a school safety incident to media outlets.


The Obama Administration’s “Rethink School Discipline” Guidance

The Commission is deeply troubed that the Guidance, while well-intentioned, may have paradocically contributed to making schools less safe. Significant concerns also remain regarding the legal framework upon which the Guidance is based. These concerns, together with the repeated concerns expressed by many that disciplinary decisions are best left in the hands of classroom teachers and administrators, warranr cedission of the Guidance. The Commission thus a=makes the following recommendations:

  1. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Department of Education (ED), should rescind the Guidance and its associated sub-regulatory guidance documents. ED should develop information for schools and school districts that will identify resources and best practices to assist schools in improving school climate and leadning outcomes as well as in protecting the rights of students with disabilities during the disciplinary process while maintaining overall student safety.
  2. DOJ and ED should continue to vigorously enforce Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1946 and provide appropriate information to assist schools and the public in understanding how ED will investigate and resolve cases of intentional discrimination.

Education Department
Department of Justice

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R

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