51 by 51 Keeping our Children Safe in School

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51 by 51

Keeping Our Children Safe in School

A main priority of each of our members this session was keeping our children safe in school. That is why it is another one of our 51 unique accomplishments of the 51 members of the Republican-led House of Delegates.

In March of last year, Speaker Cox formed the Select Committee on School Safety following the tragic shooting in Parkland, Florida. The Select Committee was the first of its kind in over 150 years in Virginia.

The committee presented a comprehensive final report with 24 priority recommendations that became nearly a dozen pieces of legislation that are now awaiting the Governor’s signature.

One piece of legislation will re-align the roles and responsibilities of school counselors to emphasize direct student services including emotional, behavioral, career, and life counseling and guidance. Right now, school counselors are often being asked to do a number of other duties – like test proctoring – instead of focusing on the needs of our students.

Another key recommendation includes the creation of a Student Mental Health Commission to continue to study additional aspects of mental and behavioral health. These are complicated and multi-faceted issues that don’t have easy answers. We can continue to work together in a collaborative way to address some of these topics.

The final report also includes best practices for localities on mutual aid agreements, school design and security planning, and infrastructure improvements. While we do not want to create unfunded mandates, these proposals are smart and should be implemented by localities.