In the wake of Friday's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. which took the lives of 28 people including 20 young children, Gov. Bob McDonnell announced Monday he is forming a School Safety Task Force to review safety procedures at the state's K-12 public schools.
McDonnell asked the state's Secretary of Education Linda Fornasch and the Secretary of Public Safety Marla Decker to review safety auditssubmitted by local school divisions and work with school superintendents to identify any changes that need to be made to procedures.
He is also forming a panel ofeducators, public safety experts, local leaders and legislators to review school safety procedures, look into best practices and identify challenges the state's public schools face in these areas.
“While we all seek answers surrounding the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy, it is incumbent upon me, as governor, to ask our experts to reflect upon and review our system<" McDonnell said in a press release. "That is why I am calling upon a team to do just that in the form of this task force. Virginia must evaluate safety in our schools and ensure that we are providing our young people with the best opportunity to learn. Getting a quality education cannot happen if students and parents are worried about safety in the classroom. Experts in education and public safety will carefully review our process, procedures, laws and initiatives in order to determine how we can best identify safety and security best practices, review our state efforts and responses and support localities as they look to invest or reallocate resources to improve safety and security. It is our duty in state and local government to do everything we can to ensure our young people from kindergarten through college are able to learn and thrive in a safe and secure environment.”
The governor is also creating a school and campus safety coordinator position within the state Department of Criminal Justice Services based on a recommendation from the Governor’s Domestic Violence Prevention and Response Advisory Board.