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Governor's Task Force Recommends Steps for Safer Schools

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RALEIGH — Recent school shootings have renewed concerns about safety in our schools. Three months ago, Governor Jim Hunt appointed aTask Force on Youth Violence and School Safetyto find ways to make North Carolina schools safer. After receiving the group's recommendations Wednesday morning, the governor says schools in our state are more prepared to deal with violence than ever before.

"What if we come to school one day and there are guns at our school, what are we supposed to do? I really appreciate that they are taking a step in trying to figure out how we would be more safe," says high school student Renee Zeneka.

A week before Wake County students return to class, safety is on their minds. Some of those students were on hand Wednesday morning as the governor was givenan official reportfrom the task force addressing those concerns.

The report contains six main recommendations, all encouraging involvement from everyone in the community.
  • Parental involvement in their children's education.
  • Student involvement in promoting school safety.
  • Every school should be given the tools to develop and implement stronger school safety plans.
  • Support efforts to provide every student and school employee with a school violence-free environment.
  • Early identification of risk factors and behavioral problems.
  • Everyone must be responsible for the communities where youths are raised."The issue of school safety is just not limited to the school buildings, the school site itself. It really is a larger issue that involves various aspects of our community," says task force member Christine Harrison.
  • The group also suggested immediate actions to be taken to achieve those goals. They include:
  • Setting up a statewide toll-free, anonymous tip line to respond to school threats.
  • Sending an early warning brochure to every parent in the state.
  • Sending the final report to every school superintendent in North Carolina.
  • Asking principals to hold meetings with law enforcement, community leaders, parents and students to discuss school safety plans."There are two keys to making schools safer in addition to what we do in our homes. One is to get everybody involved in that schools safety plan...the second is law enforcement hooked into it," says Hunt.
  • Officials hope to have the tip line -- which will be provided to the state at no cost -- to be set up in a few weeks. They also hope to have the brochures ready to send out soon, which will include the tip line number.

    Other recommendations involve funding from the General Assembly to hire more school resource officers.