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Editorial: Lend your feedback to the Pa. School Safety Task Force

| Sunday, June 24, 2018, 8:47 p.m.
Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review

We urge the public to take up the offer of state officials to add its two cents regarding what should be done to improve school safety.

A task force led by Gov. Tom Wolf and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale is compiling a report due later this year.

Its mission is to evaluate issues such as funding for school safety, access to physical and mental health support, effectiveness of state requirements for training and security, and how well safety issues are reported and whether things like anonymous tip tools are in place.

The Pennsylvania School Safety Task Force formed after the Feb. 14 shooting in Parkland, Fla.

At a recent meeting where the group sought public input, state Homeland Security Director Marcus Brown called students' participation one its highlights.

“If we're not listening, then we are missing out,” Brown said. “And if we're not focusing on the concerns of the students, on the issues that the students are dealing with every day — the mental health issues, the social media issues — … then we're missing it.”

Districts across the region are considering security upgrades, such as cameras, door locks, metal detectors, even rebuilding entrances to create a check-in window.

DePasquale also said that the task force will look at mental health resources in schools. He said it is the most “consistent and universal” topic brought up by the public.

“Some of it is staffing,” he said, “but some of it is better coordination of the counseling, some of it is better awareness.”

The task force isn't likely to recommend arming teachers, DePasquale said, but is reviewing suggestions from school districts statewide to have armed security in schools.

“If we're going to have law enforcement in the building, they have to be trained to be able to work with young kids and teenagers so that they feel comfortable working with that particular law enforcement professional,” DePasquale said.

It's an important issue, whether you have children in school or whether you don't, as a taxpayer ultimately footing the bill.

The task force is encouraging the public to lend its feedback on how school safety should be addressed.

We do, too.

Here's the online address: www.governor.pa.gov/school-safety-feedback.

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