Education

State panel rolls out school safety recommendations

Posted September 6, 2013 12:30 p.m. EDT

A Hillsborough police officer patrols outside Central Elementary School on Dec. 17, 2012, in the wake of a school massacre in Connecticut.

— A panel appointed by Gov. Pat McCrory announced Friday nearly 80 recommendations to make North Carolina public schools safer.

McCrory created the Center for Safer Schools in March in response to the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut that killed 20 first-graders and six faculty members.

"We have already begun to implement some of the recommendations outlined in this report, and I look forward to working with the General Assembly, school districts and schools to continue applying best practices for school safety on our campuses," McCrory said in a statement.

The General Assembly passed legislation this summer requiring every school to give local law enforcement copies of keys to all doors and schematic drawings of the school's layout.

Lawmakers also earmarked $7 million in grant money for more school resource officers in elementary and middle schools, and $2 million in grant money was budgeted to put panic buttons in every school by 2015. Also, legislation was passed that requires school counselors and psychologists to spend 80 percent of their time working with students.

Center for Safer Schools officials held forums statewide to collect information used to develop a comprehensive approach to school safety.

The recommendations include the following:

  • Establishing an anonymous reporting system for schools statewide.
  • Requiring all schools to have a safety plan and update it every two years.
  • Encouraging all districts to participate in all-hazards training.
  • Developing alternatives to out-of-school suspensions.
  • Expanding bullying prevention efforts.
  • Using technology to make school buses safer.

“A chief component of public safety is ensuring our school campuses provide a safe learning environment,” Secretary of Public Safety Frank Perry said in a statement. “Our goal is to work with local stakeholders to address the physical, mental and social factors that contribute to youth violence so that our schools remain a safe and secure learning environment.”

McCrory said Friday that he is creating a Safer Schools Task Force, made up of parents, students, school administrators, mental health professionals and law enforcement officers, to serve as an advisory board and provide recommendations to improve statewide policies governing school safety.