Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Governor McDonnell Announces School Safety Task Force and Initiatives

Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of Governor Bob McDonnell
December 17, 2012
Office of the Governor
Contact: Jeff Caldwell
Governor McDonnell Announces School Safety Task Force and Initiatives
~Will Establish a Task Force to Review School Safety Best Practices, Needs and Funding Challenges to Assist Localities, School Divisions, Colleges, and Universities in Ensuring that Virginia’s Schools Are Safe at All Levels~
RICHMOND — While the nation continues to mourn the horrific and senseless murders that took place at the hands of a lone gunman in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday, Governor Bob McDonnell today announced a state plan to review school safety in Virginia at all levels and to identify statewide and locality, school division, college and university resource needs to ensure that we are doing everything humanly possible to keep our children, young people and educators safe while they are in the classroom. The governor has asked Secretary of Education Laura Fornash and Secretary of Public Safety Marla Graff Decker to review recently submitted school safety audits with school superintendents and to identify any changes in procedures or additional resources needed in light of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.
The governor also announced the establishment of a task force comprised of leading educators, public safety experts, local leaders and legislators to review school safety, including established policies and procedures, crisis and emergency management plans, threat assessment protocols, as well as to share best practices and identify resource challenges. This task force will also provide legislative and budget proposals to the governor to address any critical gaps or needs associated with safety and security in our schools and on our campuses.
Additionally, the governor announced the creation of a position within the Department of Criminal Justice Services dedicated to issues associated with school and campus safety. This School and Campus Safety Coordinator position originated as a recommendation from the Governor’s Domestic Violence Prevention and Response Advisory Board and will be funded using existing resources.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the families impacted by this tragedy, and to the teachers, first responders, and all others touched by the events of last Friday,” Governor McDonnell said. “Unfortunately, Virginians have our own painful memories of the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007. Those memories will never fade, and our mourning of those losses continues.
“As a father, I cannot imagine the grief experienced by those in Newtown, Connecticut as they mourn the loss of their innocent children. As a parent whose daughter was locked down at Virginia Tech during the most recent shooting there that took the life of Officer Deriek Crouse, I acutely understand the desire for parents to know that their child’s safety is the top priority at all educational institutions at every level. As a sibling of a career teacher, the recollections of the heroism demonstrated by Sandy Hook Elementary School educators are a stark reminder to me that school personnel must be given all possible training, tools and resources to protect the children in their care. Just as public safety is the bedrock responsibility of government, the safety of our young people must continue to be the top priority in our schools and our campuses.
“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. 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.”
An executive order providing more details about the task force, its mission and its membership will be issued later this week. The goal is to identify any needed funding or legislative changes that could be brought before the General Assembly before its veto session in March.

Gallery of the innocents: Police name the 12 little girls and eight little boys - all age six and seven - gunned down in cold blood by 'mentally disturbed' shooter at Connecticut elementary school

  • All children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School were under age of 8
  • Among dead are Charlotte Bacon, Olivia Engel and Madeleine Hsu, all 6
  • Chase Kowalski, Grace McDonnell and Josephine Gay, all 7, also died
  • Teacher Victoria Soto, 27, threw herself in front of class to protect them
  • Head Dawn Hochsprung killed execution-style after confronting shooter
  • Avielle Richman and Jack Pinto- both six- are the latest pictured
  • Star Giants football player Victor Cruz wore Pinto's name on his cleats during Sunday's game because the little boy was a big fan of athlete
    Leslie Larson, James Nye In Newtown, Connecticut, Michael Zennie In Newtown, Connecticut , Daniel Bates In Newtown, Connecticut and Thomas Durante

Catherine V. Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Ana Marquez-Green, James Mattioli, Olivia Engel, Dylan Hockley, Charlotte Bacon and Grace McDonnell, all aged six to seven, were killed

 Emilie Parker, Noah Pozner, Josephine Gay, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos and Jesse Lewis all perished in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut

Little suffering: The medical examiner said that the victims, including six-year-old Avielle Richman, were shot at quite close range and did not suffer
six-year-old Avielle Richman
Tragic: Six-year-old Benjamin Wheeler, pictured, was among the beautiful children gunned down in class
Six-year-old Benjamin Wheeler
DanielDaniel barden
7-year-old Daniel Barden
Six-year-old Emilie Parker
Ana Marquez-Greene,
Ana Marquez-Green
Jesse Lewis
Jesse Lewis
Six-year-old Noah Pozner
James Mattioli
Six-year-olds James Mattioli
Jessica Rekos
Jessica Rekos
Dylan Hockley
A six-year-old boy from Britain, Dylan Hockley


Tragic victim: Jack Pinto, 6, was one of those shot in Sandy Hook Elementary, and because he was a big Giants fan, football player Victor Cruz wore Pinto's name on his cleats and gloves during Sunday's game

Tragic victim: Jack Pinto, 6, was one of those shot
 in Sandy Hook Elementary

Dawn HochsprungVictoria Soto
Principal Dawn Hochsprung, left, and teacher Victoria Soto
School psychologist Mary Sherlach, 56, was shot dead by Adam Lanza while trying to save her students Lauren Rousseau
School psychologist Mary Sherlach,teacher Lauren Rousseau, 30, shot trying to save their students
Anne Marie Murphy
Anne Marie Murphy, was a teacher's aide