Superintendents, school officials to attend school safety roundtable discussion next week

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WILLIAMSPORT – Senator Gene Yaw (R-23) will host the Senate Majority Policy Committee, chaired by Senator David G. Argall (R-29), for a roundtable discussion on school safety efforts next week with local school superintendents and administrative staff.

The roundtable discussion will be held on Thursday, August 16 at 1 p.m. at the Pennsylvania College of Technology, Bush Campus Center, One College Avenue in Williamsport.

“Enacting common sense legislation to protect students, teachers and school staff has been a priority for the legislature in recent months,” Yaw said. “This roundtable discussion with our superintendents and school officials will provide us with more insight on how best to address challenges and implement solutions that can further safeguard everyone moving forward.”

“I commend Senator Yaw for bringing the Senate Majority Policy Committee to Williamsport to listen to the concerns and suggestions when it comes to how we best protect our children, educators and school staff in north central Pennsylvania,” Argall said. “These conversations are critical because the needs and suggestions vary depending on where in the state you are located. School safety does not have a one-size-fits-all solution. We need to hear from every corner of the state on how we address this critical issue.”

The roundtable discussion will feature a brief summary of recently passed legislation, pending proposals that are awaiting action by the General Assembly and a focus on new ideas and school safety solutions from local participants.

The event is open to the public.

An agenda and more information will be found on Senator Yaw’s website at SenatorGeneYaw.com and on the committee’s website at policy.pasenategop.com.

Contacts:

Rita Zielonis (Yaw)
717.787.3280

Jon Hopcraft (Argall)
717.787.2637

Public Roundtable on School Safety – Williamsport, PA

Senate Majority Policy Committee
Public Roundtable

School Safety 

August 16, 2018 | 1:00 p.m. 

Bush Campus Center
One College Avenue
Williamsport, PA 17701

 

1:00 p.m.        Welcome and Opening Remarks  

  • Senator David G. Argall, Chairman, Senate Majority Policy Committee
  • Senator Gene Yaw
  • Senator John Gordner
  • Senator Wayne Langerholc
  • Senator Mike Regan 

1:15 p.m.        Roundtable Discussion

  • Wendy Albor, Hilfiger’s Transportation
  • Mike Berk, Executive Director, Pennsylvania School Bus Association
  • Judy Bookhamer, Executive Director, PA School Counselors Association
  • Patricia Cross, D.Ed., Superintendent, Sullivan County School District
  • Richard Cummings, Principal, St. John Neumann High School
  • Grant Evangelisti, Business Manager, Montgomery Area School District
  • Representative Garth Everett
  • Kyle Fera, Officer, Tiadaghton Valley Regional Police
  • Wade Heggenstaller, Benton Area School District Board Member
  • Robert F. Hetner, Chief of Police, South Williamsport Police Department
  • Representative Fred Keller
  • Jerry McLaughlin, Superintendent, Loyalsock Township School District
  • Michael Pawlik, Superintendent, East Lycoming School District
  • Richard Poole, District Safety Officer, Williamsport Area School District
  • Steven Skalka, Ph.D., Superintendent, Lewisburg Area School District
  • Craig Skaluba, Ph.D., Superintendent, Muncy School District
  • Mark Stamm, D.Ed., Superintendent, South Williamsport School District
  • Jordan Stoltzfus, Officer, Williamsport Bureau of Police
  • Jill Wenrich, D.Ed., Superintendent, Jersey Shore School District
  • Representative Jeff Wheeland
  • Michael Wiley, McCormick Law Firm
  • David Young, Chief of Police, Williamsport Bureau of Police
  • Kerby L. Young, Lieutenant, Pennsylvania State Police 

3:00 p.m.        Adjourn

Senate Sends Comprehensive School Safety Measure to Governor’s Desk

 

HARRISBURG — The Senate approved a comprehensive, bipartisan school safety bill today that will dedicate significant new resources to help prevent school violence.

Senate Bill 1142, sponsored by Senators Pat Browne (R-16), Vince Hughes (D-7) and Scott Martin (R-13), would create the School Safety and Security Grant Program to distribute $60 million in new school safety funding that was included in the state budget. The new funding is in addition to the $10 million dedicated to an existing grant program created in 2013 by a law authored by Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25).

The two grant programs will provide funding for a variety of measures designed to improve student safety and reduce school violence, including:

  • hiring school police officers, school resource officers, counselors and/or mental health counselors;
  • alternative education and diversion programs;
  • violence prevention initiatives;
  • school safety and emergency preparedness plans;
  • physical upgrades to school buildings and equipment to improve safety.

The legislation would also create a school threat reporting and monitoring system for students, teachers and community residents to anonymously report any unsafe, potentially harmful, dangerous, violent or criminal activities in schools. The new Safe2Say Program would be patterned after the Safe2Tell program that was created in Colorado in 1999 after the school shooting at Columbine.

The Attorney General would administer the system and ensure the information regarding potential threats is sent to the appropriate law enforcement agency and school officials for further investigation.

The bill was also amended to include a proposal introduced by Senators Wayne Langerholc Jr. (R-35) and Mike Regan (R-31) that would require the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency to develop school safety assessment guidelines. These guidelines would offer a uniform approach to evaluating current security measures in every school building in Pennsylvania.

The newly created School Safety and Security Committee would be made up of various experts in school safety, security and child behavior.

In addition, Senate Bill 1142 would require schools to provide employees with mandatory training on school safety and security. The provision mirrors a proposal introduced by Browne and Senator Tom McGarrigle (R-26). Annual safety assessments for schools will also be required – an idea championed by Senator Stewart Greenleaf (R-12).

The school safety measures included in Senate Bill 1142 are the first phase of the Senate’s efforts to protect students. Senate leaders have already announced that hearings will be scheduled over the summer to gather input from various stakeholders regarding additional steps that can be taken to improve school safety. 

Senate Bill 1142 was passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives and was sent to the Governor to be signed into law.

 

Contact: Senate Republican Communications (717) 787-6725

School Safety

 

Senator Mike Regan joined Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) at a Capitol news conference to discuss state and federal school safety initiatives.

Senators and Attorney General Urge Passage of School Threat Reporting System

 

HARRISBURG – Bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Pat Browne (R-16), Vincent J. Hughes (D-7) and Scott Martin (R-13) and supported by Attorney General Josh Shapiro creating a new school threat monitoring system in an effort to help reduce school violence is scheduled for a final vote in the Senate today (May 22nd).

The Safe2Say Program would allow anonymous reporting of threats regarding unsafe, potentially harmful, dangerous, violent or criminal activities in schools.

“I am pleased the Senate is moving quickly to enact this important legislation that will provide a confidential, anonymous way for students to report any suspicious behavior or activity they have witnessed or that has been brought to their attention,” Senator Browne, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee said. “Students may not feel comfortable bringing the actions, comments or behavior of their fellow classmates to the attention of authority if they must identify themselves in the process. However, students are more likely to feel comfortable and safe if they are able to report these concerns anonymously.”

Senate Bill 1142 was modeled after a similar system created in Colorado – the Safe2Tell program – following the tragic school shootings at Columbine High School in 1999. Since its inception, Colorado authorities have received more than 30,000 reports of potentially dangerous situations.

“With another school shooting taking place last Friday in Texas, I’m grateful that the Senate is moving quickly to pass SB 1142,” Senator Hughes said. “I believe the Safe2Say program is a common sense proposal that will save lives by providing a central location for students and others to report potential threats and other activity. We have much more work left to do to protect our children, our schools and our communities and the passage of the Safe2Say program today is a good first step.

“I want to thank Senator Browne, Senator Martin and Attorney General Shapiro on this legislation. The safety of our children is not a partisan issue. I also want to thank Senator Scarnati, Senator Corman and Senator Costa for moving SB 1142 out of the Senate so quickly. I call on the House of Representatives to do the same so we can get this bill to Governor Wolf’s desk.”

This legislation, which passed both the Senate Education and Appropriations Committees unanimously, would require the Attorney General to administer the system and ensure the information can be sent to the appropriate law enforcement agency and school officials for further investigation.

“In light of the tragedies that have taken place in communities throughout the country, school safety needs to be among our highest priorities. Creating a strong threat reporting system is the first step in that process,” Senator Martin said. “It is extremely encouraging to see members of both parties come together to help create a safer environment for students.”

The Attorney General’s office would create the system, which would accept the anonymous complaints through a hotline, online or an app. The program will cover emergency and non-emergency reports. It is not meant to replace 911 services, to be used as a disciplinary tool for school employees or as a law enforcement tool. And, there is a provision in the bill for persons knowingly or intentionally making a false report.

“At least five other states have created school safety programs like Safe2Say, and I commend Senators Browne, Hughes and others for their leadership in bringing this initiative to Pennsylvania,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “It’s a choice we are making to allow gun violence in Pennsylvania schools. The Senate is making a choice today to prevent this kind of violence.”

At least five other states have created similar programs.

CONTACT:

Matt Moyer (Senator Browne) (717) 787-1349, mmoyer@pasen.gov
Wesley Robinson (Senator Hughes) (717) 787-3497, wesley.robinson@pasenate.com
Terry Trego (Senator Martin) (717) 787-6535, ttrego@pasen.gov
Carolyn M. Simpson (Attorney General Shapiro) (717) 787-7157, csimpson@attorneygeneral.gov 

Senators Propose Creation of School Threat Reporting System

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HARRISBURG – Bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Pat Browne (R-16), Vincent J. Hughes (D-7) and Scott Martin (R-13) to help reduce school violence by creating a new school threat monitoring system unanimously passed the Senate Education Committee today (April 24).

The Safe2Say Program would allow anonymous reporting of the threats regarding unsafe, potentially harmful, dangerous, violent or criminal activities in schools. The program would be patterned after the Safe2Tell program that was created in Colorado in 1999 after the school shooting at Columbine.

“Giving students a confidential, anonymous way for them to contact authorities to report any suspicious or concerning behavior they may have witnessed or perceived will, hopefully, lead to more identification of warning signs which could prevent an unthinkable school tragedy,” Browne, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said. “The ability to stay anonymous reduces the likelihood of retribution or retaliation against a student who reports suspicious activity to authorities.”

At least five other states have created similar programs. The system in Colorado has received more than 30,000 reports of potentially dangerous situations since 2004.

“Safe2Say gives our students an active role in protecting themselves from potential danger,” Senator Hughes said. “It will also allow concerned citizens to anonymously report other issues that could put students at risk, which simply makes sense in maintaining school safety. I’m pleased to propose this bill with bi-partisan support in the Senate.”

The legislation – Senate Bill 1142 – would require the Attorney General to administer the system and ensure the information can be sent to the appropriate law enforcement agency and school officials for further investigation.

“Identifying potential threats is the first step in helping our schools and our law enforcement community prevent a tragedy,” Martin said. “The program will not be limited to school shootings. The system will also help prevent a number of other potentially deadly problems like drug use, bullying, suicide and self-harm. It gives students and citizens the tools they need to make our schools safer.”

The program will cover emergency and non-emergency reports. Anyone can utilize the reporting mechanism. Colorado has found that the most common tip involves suicide threats. They also receive tips on bullying, drug use, cutting and depression as well as threats to schools. 

CONTACT:

Matt Moyer (Senator Browne) (717) 787-1349, mmoyer@pasen.gov
Wesley Robinson (Senator Hughes) (717) 787-3497, wesley.Robinson@pasenate.com
Terry Trego (Senator Martin) (717) 787-6535, ttrego@pasen.gov

Senators Langerholc, McGarrigle Introduce Bill to Increase Mental Health Professionals in Schools

Harrisburg – Senator Wayne Langerholc, Jr. (R-35) and Senator Tom McGarrigle (R-26) announced legislation today to increase the ability of school districts to hire professionals to focus on the mental health needs of their students.

“Through conversations with school officials in our districts, it is evident that we need to dedicate serious and sustainable funding to enable our schools to assist their students with mental health needs,” Langerholc said. 

“Over the years, schools have reduced the number of guidance counselors yet have increased their responsibilities.  This legislation will empower school districts to hire the professionals they need to fill this void,” said McGarrigle.

The legislation will provide school districts options to hire a social worker, school psychologist, or guidance counselor to solely focus on mental health issues.

Funding will come from the current filing fees for civil actions, legal proceedings, and property transfers; as well as, criminal, traffic, and summary filings. 

“By redirecting these fees to address mental health concerns in our schools, we will be preventing school violence and providing a resource to our schools that they desperately need,” Langerholc said.  

“Identifying mental health issues early helps prevent a child from falling behind academically and possibly acting out violently. Our legislation sends the message that the mental health and safety of Pennsylvania students is a top priority,” said McGarrigle.

Contacts:
Gwenn Dando gdando@pasen.gov (717) 787-5400 (Sen. Langerholc)
Mike Rader mrader@pasen.gov (717) 787-1350 (Sen. McGarrigle)

Regan Briefs Senate Panel on Measures Needed To Enhance School Safety and Security in PA

 

Senator Mike Regan (R-31) testified before the Senate Education Committee during a public hearing on school safety, focusing his remarks on efforts to improve school building security through professional assessments, customized safety plans, extensive training, and reprioritized state funding.

To view Senator Regan’s full testimony, click here.

Regan, a former U.S. Marshal who was responsible for security planning and implementation at federal court houses, said school administrators and faculty must be trained and prepared to address an active shooter situation as part of a broader Comprehensive School Safety Plan. 

As part of that effort, he stressed that schools should receive a professionally-conducted preliminary needs assessment to ensure that funding is being used with maximum efficiency. 

He emphasized that school safety plans should tailored to the unique needs of each school.  “Simply stated, “one-size-fits-all” plans do not work,” Regan said. “Customization is the name of the game.”

He added that confidentiality of school safety plans is crucial, citing a bill he is sponsoring with Senator Robert Tomlinson (R-6) which would require school security matters to be discussed in Executive Session.

Regan emphasized the importance of rigorous and recurring active shooter training to help school personnel function under extreme duress. 

“People never rise to the occasion, they fall to the level of their training,” said Regan. “Robust training acclimates responders to stress.”

Finally Regan noted that efforts to improve school safety will cost money – an investment he says is critical to their success.  He noted that last year approximately $8.53 million was dedicated to the Safe School Initiative line item. This figure represents less than 1/10th of 1 percent of General Fund spending in Education. 

​Regan said funding should be part of the overall effort to make schools safer and implement the improvements and training that can save lives in the event of a school shooting.

In the coming weeks, he intends to work with the Pennsylvania State Police, the Pennsylvania Department of Education, education stakeholder groups, and security experts to develop new school safety standards which he hopes will “become a national model.” 

Contact: Noah K. Karn 717-787-8524 / nkarn@pasen.gov

 

Public Hearing On Ways to Improve Student and School Safety

Senate Education Committee

Friday, March 2, 2018, at 10:00 AM
North Office Building, Hearing Room 1

Testimony will focus on ways to improve student and school safety

 

10:00   AM
Opening Comments

 10:05
Senator Mike Regan (R-31)
Former United States Marshal
U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania                      

10:15 AM
Major Douglas Burig
Director of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation
Pennsylvania State Police 

10:35 AM
Matthew Stem  | Attachment
Deputy Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education
Pennsylvania Department of Education 

10:55 AM
Dr. Sarah Daly
Assistant Professor of Criminology, Law and Society
Saint Vincent College 

11:15 AM
Dr. Mark DiRocco
Executive Director
Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators 

11:35 PM
James E. Hyslop
President and CEO
Standing Stone Consulting, Inc. 

11:50 PM
Adjournment


Written Testimony:

AFT PA

The American Institute of Architects

Teach PA