The importance of providing a safe school culture and a positive climate for students and staff alike headlined findings from the Missouri School Safety Task Force, of which members presented a final report to the Missouri State Board of Education on Tuesday.
The task force was established in April 2019 following Executive Order 19-04 by Missouri Governor Michael Parson and studied the recently released Federal Commission on School Safety report to identify gaps, shortfalls, or suggested policy changes in Missouri schools. A survey of K-12 public and charter schools in November 2018 revealed that while Missouri schools are generally safe overall, there was room for improvement in several areas.
This survey, coupled with other input from multiple school safety stakeholders, served as the catalyst for the task force.
Following six public outreach sessions throughout the state to gather testimony, the task force produced findings in ten key areas:
- Effective communication and information sharing
- Mental health / behavioral risk
- School climate and culture
- Emergency operations plans
- Physical security / technology / safety assessments / audits
- Training and drills
- School resource officer / Safety coordinator programs
- Access to grants / funding opportunities for school safety
- Legal – statutory constraints on school safety
- Cybersecurity and risk
“If you don’t have the basic foundation set in place with things like a positive school climate, effective mental health and risk programs, and strong communication, then you can’t have a safe school,” said Paul Fennewald, senior policy advisor to the Center for Education Safety. “This is a living, breathing document that we will continue to update, and we are excited about the long-term outlook of safety in Missouri schools.”
The task force was chaired by Missouri Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe and included members of the Missouri general assembly, representatives from the Missouri School Boards’ Association, directors of Missouri state agencies and law enforcement personnel.
The final report from the task force and Tuesday’s state board presentation are available.