Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed an order Wednesday at Blair Oaks High School, accelerating the work of a state task force tasked with making recommendations on school safety by early next year school year.
Parson told a gym filled with students and Blair Oaks staff members that the Missouri School Safety Task Force, led by Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe, will report on his findings and recommendations. make recommendations by July 31.
"Superintendents, school principals and board members across the state are doing an excellent job of educating our students and preparing them for their future careers." As long as the state, we must make sure that we provide them with the tools and guidance necessary to continue doing so, "says the pastor.
"As a parent, grandfather and governor, I expect schools to be safe from the moment a student gets on the bus in the morning until he leaves for school." As a former sheriff, I know that there are some in the world who seek to take on those who are often unable to protect themselves, "he said. he declared.
Other members of the working group present at the Parson event on Wednesday morning included officials from the Public Safety, Mental Health and Primary and Secondary Education Departments, as well as the Executive Director of Missouri School Boards & # 39; Association and a senior executive. Policy Advisor at the Center for Education Safety.
Some of these members have expanded school safety to include risk reduction related to natural hazards such as fires, earthquakes and tornadoes, as well as student mental health issues such as bullying, l & rsquo; Isolation and suicide – but the task force has the priority of combating violence in schools.
Sandy Karsten said that the telephone hotline for school violence in Missouri had been transferred from the supervision of the Department of Social Services to that of the Department of Public Safety, so that "the" it can be served 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Karsten – who is the director of the public security department – also said the task force would have a school resource officer. She said after the event that the appointment of the deputy minister to the task force would be imminent. The task force would also seek the advice of individuals and companies with safety expertise in schools, such as Bret Brooks, which was nearby.
Brooks is a senior consultant with Gray Ram Tactical LLC, a Higginsville-based training and consulting company, who has conducted active shooter training for the Blair Oaks R-2 School District. His wife, Dawn, founded, owns the company and is the general manager. Their kids are going to Blair Oaks.
"I hope they'll appeal to the local professionals we have here," Bret said about the state task force, adding that he was happy that the The state takes the initiative to make schools safer.
"To be clear, there is no single solution to security problems in schools and there can not be a single solution," said Parson, adding that "school safety begins at the local level" .
He added that the hope is to help public and private schools by providing them with a framework to make school safety a priority in their systems.
Kehoe said after the event that the framework that the working group is going to develop is not a mandate, but it may, for example, ask schools to ask if they have a connection with their local application and if not, identify resources to do this or another problem.
"We need input from local districts and local law enforcement, and we will aggressively seek this information in the coming weeks," Kehoe said in a press release issued by the office. of the governor.
The press release added: "The task force will study the report recently released by the Federal School Safety Committee from the Missouri perspective to identify gaps, gaps or suggested changes."
This federal report – available at www2.ed.gov/documents/school-safety/school-safety-report.pdf – was a joint effort of the US Departments of Education, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, and Justice, and was released in December. The federal commission was created following the deadly shooting of a school in February 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
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Parson said the timeline of the Missouri task force to make recommendations is aggressive, but it shows the seriousness of the issue.
"We can never go too fast to help people improve safety in schools," he added.
Blair Oaks' superintendent Jim Jones said after the event that "all that will result (from the work of the task force) will create a positive influence on the safety of schools in Missouri.
"It's not that we have not thought about it and we have not talked about it," said Jones, but he praised the cooperation between the two. agencies illustrated by the creation of the working group.
The full text of the Parson Decree establishing the working group is available at the following address: sos.mo.gov/library/reference/orders/2019/eo4. The order notes that the working group will be dissolved once it has submitted its report on its findings and recommendations, "unless a re-authorization or replacement by a subsequent order . "