Raleigh, NC: Today, the House Select Committee on School Safety adopted final recommendations developed by the Mental Health Working Group and the Physical Safety Working Group. Support for the proposal was widely bi-partisan and praised from across the political spectrum for its inclusion of member ideas and work in the policy areas of health and human services, justice and public safety, and education.
The full committee met two times, but tasked two working groups with major focus areas. Both groups came up with a set of recommendations that included more mental health opportunities in the school system, more counseling and peer to peer programs for students, better preparation for threats, and a focus on putting more school resource officers in schools.
Rep. David Lewis, Co-Chair of the committee had this to say about the proposal:
“Today, the full House Committee on School Safety recommended fifteen different items for consideration in the upcoming session that can be addressed this year to provide a safe learning environment for our children. I’m thankful for how all members of the committee came together, tackled this topic head on, and worked together in a positive, bipartisan manner.”
Mental Health Recommendations
Recommendation 1: Accept the Nationally Certified School Psychologist Credential as Complete Fulfillment of the requirements for licensure as a School Psychologist.
Recommendation 2: Continue work to meet national recommendations for staffing of student support positions to improve care and intervention.
Recommendation 3: Require threat assessment teams in all public schools.
Recommendation 4: Require peer to peer counseling programs in middle and high schools to identify and assist students with social, emotional, and behavioral needs.
Recommendation 5: Develop a plan to efficiently coordinate care among mental health support professionals.
Recommendation 6: Funding should be provided for expansion statewide of applications that allow anonymous reporting on potential threats, abuse, or related issues.
Recommendation 7: Support of local managed care entities to address mental health concerns.
Physical Safety Recommendations
Recommendation 8: Study armed security options for nonpublic schools.
Recommendation 9: Study expansion and requirements of volunteer school resource officer program.
Recommendation 10: Extend mandatory safety plan and drill requirement to all public schools and encourage nonpublic school participation.
Recommendation 11: Implement training and continuing education requirements for school resource officers.
Recommendation 12: Appropriate an additional $1.8 million to fund grants for school resource officers.
Recommendation 13: Require facility vulnerability assessments for each school building.
Recommendation 14: Require local Boards of Education to report annually on school resource officers.
Recommendation 15: House Bill 285, Suicide Prevention/Awareness School Personnel should be enacted.
Rep. Torbett offered support for the goal and end product of the committee:
“We engaged in a process that reflected the importance of the task before us. The steps we take today will lead to a real improvement in the lives of our students. We are moving to pour more mental health opportunities into the school system, add more counseling program, prepare our schools for threats, and add more school resource officers.”
Both Torbett and Lewis offered this comment on the future of the School Safety Committee:
“We are focusing not only on the immediate need to protect our children from attackers, but also to prevent problems from arising in the first place. Today is not the end of the process—the chairs will continue working with our budget teams during the short session and this committee will continue to work going forward.”
The Committee proposals that the committee adopted will be discussed in the upcoming session as legislators continue to find opportunities to fund the priorities set forth in the committee.