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Day Leads Effort to Create Select Committee to Study School Safety, Security
3/13/2013

Measure clears House today 

HARRISBURG – To help develop and examine legislation that enhances safety in schools across Pennsylvania, Rep. Gary Day (R-Berks/Lehigh) has secured House approval of a special committee to study and develop legislation to help make schools safer. 

House Resolution 53, which passed the House unanimously today, creates a Select Committee on School Safety and Security.  

“The safety of our children is at the forefront of every parent’s mind, and right now, should be at the center of the national debate,” Day said. “To ensure that we do what is best for our children, families, educators and communities, we must have a thoughtful approach to addressing current concerns regarding school safety and security.”

Day said that the formation of a select committee on school safety and security will allow the House to examine and understand thoroughly the current status of school security policies and procedures and relevant state law before new school safety legislation is proposed. 

Day is joined in this effort with Rep. Cherelle L. Parker (D-Philadelphia).  

“The mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in December shocked America’s conscience,” Parker said. “People are still feeling powerless and are looking to their elected officials to assist in doing whatever is necessary to ensure a safe and secure learning environment for our children and those pursuing higher education. We must work in bipartisan cooperation to assess the safety and security needs of our schools because the people demand it. I am honored to be a part of this bipartisan effort.”  

The select committee is now responsible for investigating, reviewing and making recommendations regarding: 

  • Security policies and procedures in public and nonpublic schools and institutions of higher education in this Commonwealth.
  • State laws and regulations related to school safety and security.
  • Early detection of potentially violent perpetrators.
  • Any potential budgetary, revenue and governance reforms necessary to address these matters.

This bipartisan committee will be composed of two members – one from each the majority and minority sides – from each of these committees: Education, Health, Local Government, Children and Youth, Judiciary and Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness, with three at-large members with one serving as chairperson. Those appointments are expected to be announced in the near future, Day said. 

The committee’s focus will be on reviewing safety policies and procedures; accepting expert testimony through both written submissions and traditional hearings; and producing a report of recommendations. That report may lead to legislation, policies, executive orders, best practices, etc. – with the overall goal of helping to ensure the safety within our schools. 

The select committee will be empowered to call witnesses, including but not limited to representatives of the Office of Safe Schools within the Department of Education and the Safe Schools Advocate for the School District of Philadelphia, to answer questions and provide information and documents the committee deems necessary to conduct its investigation.   

“It is important to ensure that the public and nonpublic schools and institutions of higher education in this Commonwealth, in conjunction with state and local law enforcement agencies, are taking reasonable actions toward making their facilities safe and secure for students, employees and visitors,” Day continued. “Some schools are already taking these steps and everyone will benefit from a review and sharing of best practices before rushing independent actions. Furthermore, our mental health professionals should play a crucial role in early identification and intervention with potentially violation perpetrators.” 

“We also must take a complete accounting of our mental health system, not only funding mechanisms to provide access to mental health services for those who lack the resources to pay, but the need to reach out and educate people who do have the means but are not taking that first critical step of seeking help for their children,” Parker said. “The only thing our children should be concerned about when going to school is getting a quality education.”  

The select committee must submit a report of its findings and recommendations to the House by Sept. 30, 2013. 

Representative Gary Day
187th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact:  Jennifer Keaton
717.705.2094
jkeaton@pahousegop.com
RepGaryDay.com / Facebook.com/RepGaryDay
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