MIAMI (CBSMiami) — After months of research, visiting successful programs around the nation, and receiving testimony from experts and concerned citizens, the Federal Commission on School Safety released its final report detailing best practices and policy recommendations for improving safety at schools across the country.
The report states it takes a “holistic” view of school safety, with chapters addressing mental health care, violent entertainment, news coverage of mass shootings and building security.
The report lays out 93 recommendations including a call for children to have better access to mental health services and for states to consider implementing provisions to temporarily restrict access to firearms for dangerous individuals.
President Donald Trump created the Federal Commission on School Safety in March in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in Parkland which left 17 people dead and 17 others injured.
The commission spent nearly a year conducting visits and holding listening sessions where they heard from state officials, experts and community members about concerns and solutions to improve school safety.
The panel is also proposing a rollback of Obama-era guidance that was meant to curb racial disparities in school discipline. That 2014 guidance discouraged schools from suspending or expelling students or reporting them to police. The guidance was created after a finding that black students faced severe discipline far more often than whites. But the commission says the guidance left schools afraid to take action against potentially violent students.
The panel’s report does not encourage schools to arm teachers and other school employees but provides guidelines if they choose to.
The commission was led by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
“Each of us has an important role to play in keeping our students safe while at school,” said DeVos. “Through the Commission’s work, it has become even clearer there is no single policy that will make our schools safer. What will work for schools in Montana will be different than what will work for schools in Manhattan. With that in mind, this report provides a wide-ranging menu of best practices and resources that all state, community, and school leaders should consider while developing school safety plans and procedures that will work for their students and teachers.”
DeVos served as chair of the Commission. Other members included former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
Kathy Koch, Chief Public Information Officer for Broward Schools released this statement:
“The District has received the Federal Commission on School Safety Report released by the U.S. Department of Education. District staff is reviewing the report and will use it to improve the safety of our students and the security of our schools. Broward County Public Schools is committed to learning from the February 14 tragedy to create safer and more secure learning environments.”
“This is the most comprehensive report done after a school shooting ever,” father of a Parkland victim Andrew Pollock said.
Parkland parent Max Schachter says one of his key concerns was addressed.
“This report recommends the creation of a clearing house, a repository to promote national best practices. That has never been done before,” Schachter says.
The 180-page report, posted on the U.S. Department of Education’s website, contains 19 chapters divided into three sections: prevention, protect and mitigate, and respond and recover.
- Character Development and a Culture of Connectedness
- Cyberbullying and School Safety
- Curating a Healthier and Safer Approach: Issues of Mental Health and Counseling for Our Young
- Integrating Mental Health, Primary Care, Family Services, and Court-Ordered Treatment
- Using Suspicious Activity Reporting and Threat Assessments to Enhance School Safety
- Effects of Press Coverage of Mass Shootings
- Violent Entertainment and Rating Systems
- The Obama Administration’s “Rethink School Discipline” Guidance
- The Effectiveness and Appropriateness of Psychotropic Medication for Treatment of Troubled Youth
- The Efficacy of Age Restrictions for Firearm Purchases
- Extreme Risk Protection Order Laws
- Improvements to the FBI’s Public Access Line
PROTECT & MITIGATE
- Training School Personnel to Help Ensure Student Safety
- Emergency and Crisis Training for Law Enforcement
- The Transition of Military Veterans and Retired Law Enforcement Officials into New Careers in Education
- Best Practices for School Building Security
- The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and Other Statutory and Regulatory Privacy Protections
- The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Other Statutory and Regulatory Privacy Protections
RESPOND & RECOVER
- Active Shooter Preparedness and Mitigation