Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox released on Thursday a list of 24 priority recommendations for the House Select Committee on School Safety to present to the General Assembly for the 2019 Session. In a memo to Select Committee members, Speaker Cox said he wanted to ensure the most important and effective recommendations are positioned to receive support in both the House and Senate.
The priority recommendations include proposals to realign the role of school counselors, develop a statewide mental health and suicide prevention tip line application, increase funding for School Resource Officers, increase funding for school security grants, and create a Commission on Student Mental Health to continue to study a number of important topics considered by the committee.
The Committee will received detailed presentations on each priority at its next meeting. Speaker Cox will ask the Committee to authorize the preparation of a final report that includes the priority recommendations, but also includes the body of the committee’s work, including all of the draft proposals developed by the subcommittees, as appendices.
“In my opening remarks at our first Committee meeting, I stated that my goal was for this to be a “do-something” Committee and that our final product was going to be comprehensive and consensus-driven,” Speaker Cox wrote in his memo to Committee members. “I believe we have accomplished this goal. The draft proposals that our subcommittees received and presented at our last meeting are indicative of the creative and thoughtful process I asked Vice Chair Danny Marshall and our subcommittee chairs to lead.”
“My focus since our last Committee meeting has been to develop a path forward to ensure our most important and effective proposals are positioned to receive support from the majority of both legislative bodies and the governor. To that end, I asked staff to work with key stakeholder groups to consolidate the subcommittee proposals into a list of priorities that our Committee can present to the General Assembly in January.”
A full list of the Select Committee’s priorities can be accessed here. Speaker Cox’s memo to the Select Committee can be accessed here. The Select Committee’s final meeting is scheduled for November 14 at James Madison University.
Highlights of Select Committee Priority Recommendations
- Recommends realigning roles and responsibilities of school counselors to emphasize direct student services including emotional, behavioral, career, and life counseling and guidance.
- Recommends the creation of a statewide tip line application for mental health and suicide prevention, similar to SafeUT, so students can access real-time crisis-intervention counseling and report threats of violence
- Recommends increased funding for the Center for School and Campus Safety, new School Resource Officer positions, and additional School Security grants
- Recommends a list of best practices for localities on mutual aid agreements, school design and security planning, and infrastructure improvements
- Recommends the creation of a Student Mental Health Commission to continue to study additional aspects of mental and behavioral health