Pa. school safety report emphasizes need for more mental health services

After visiting each region of the state and collaborating with students, teachers, parents and law enforcement, Pennsylvania’s School Safety Task Force—created in the wake of February’s mass shooting in Parkland, Florida—has released a new report with its recommendations to make schools safer.

The report highlights the need for better access to mental health services for both parents and students. It also identifies commons barriers to school security and training for school employees.

Broadly, the report points to the key areas below as ways to address school security concerns:

  • Improved communication and information sharing
  • Enhanced social and emotional learning
  • Increased access to mental health services, including more health professionals in schools
  • Building community connections
  • Effectively integrating law enforcement and school resource officers
  • Providing guidance on establishing priorities for schools
  • Providing schools with more resources

In addition to the task force report, Gov. Tom Wolf's 2018-2019 budget includes $60 million that will be distributed by a new School Safety and Security Committee with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency to help school districts across the state address their unique school safety needs.

The committee will award grants to school districts for physical building upgrades, security equipment, teacher training, alternative education programs, community violence prevention programs and individualized mentoring programs to keep teachers and students safe.

MORE: Pa. schools seek better security, student services Wolf taps former police chief to lead school safety board

The 17-member committee also plants to establish best practices when assessing school safety and security, trainings and student behavioral health support, as well as issue a survey to school entities to measure school safety and security preparedness.

“Keeping our schools safe will require a holistic approach,” said Wolf. “I will continue to push for gun safety reforms, but this work will fortify our efforts to keep students and teachers safe.”

For the full report, see here.

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