NEWTOWN, Conn. – Yesterday, a bipartisan group of representatives introduced the Preparing Leaders to Assess Needs (PLAN) for School Safety Act in the House of Representatives. Led by Reps. John Rutherford (R-FL) and Joe Neguse (D-CO) and co-led by Reps. Tony Gonzales (R-TX), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), John James (R-MI), Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Lou Correa (D-CA). The PLAN Act will provide schools with localized essential safety planning resources by strengthening state-based expert centers, contributing to the nationwide effort to protect children from school shootings and violence.
Given the rising rates of school violence and youth suicide, there is an urgent need for school safety and mental health programming to prevent tragedies. However, educators often experience challenges in planning for school safety due to inadequate access to essential violence prevention resources. The PLAN Act aims to remedy this by establishing a vital link between district administrators, communities, and state-based professionals, facilitating streamlined access to much-needed resources. The bill will help schools identify school safety solutions and give schools a direct link to experts who can connect them to the necessary resources.
Mark Barden, co-founder and CEO of Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund, and father of Daniel, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, issued the following statement in response:
“We applaud members of Congress for their leadership in ensuring the safety of our children through the PLAN Act. When it comes to preventing the next school shooting, there are sensible, proactive solutions that educators can help implement. Unfortunately, the reality is that schools lack the necessary resources to access these programs. The PLAN Act unlocks the critical support required for effective planning paramount to keeping our schools and communities safe.”
“Every child has a right to be safe in school. I am proud of the significant federal resources Congress has made available to schools to improve security measures; however, many schools struggle to find and apply for these resources,” said Congressman Rutherford. “The PLAN for School Safety Act will build on our efforts by connecting subject matter experts with school leaders to better facilitate participation in school safety programs and grants. As a former sheriff and lifelong member of law enforcement, I know firsthand the importance of investing in security to prevent violence before it occurs.”
“We join Sandy Hook Promise in celebrating the introduction of the PLAN for School Safety Act,” said Andrea Clyne, President of the National Association of School Psychologists. “School psychologists are critical members of school safety and crisis response teams and we know the importance of ongoing training and technical assistance to support the development and implementation of evidence-based comprehensive school safety efforts. The centers established by this bill will help schools and communities to identify, implement, and sustain effective strategies necessary to keep our children safe.”
“Few districts have the capacity to have an external evaluation conducted of their school safety plan for each building in the district,” said Sasha Pudelski, Director of Advocacy for AASA, The School Superintendents Association. “The PLAN for School Safety Act empowers State School Safety Centers to review district safety plans and offer advice on what the district should prioritize and any evidence-based practices the district should adopt. Instead of being bombarded by companies and vendors with offers of how they can ‘buy their way’ to improved school safety, district leaders would have a trusted, unbiased, free source that could evaluate the security of their campuses and suggest evidence-based improvements. This legislation perfectly complements the increases to federal school safety funding we need to see approved by Congress this year and empowers district leaders to make the best choices for how they utilize funding to improve school safety.”
Since its founding Sandy Hook Promise has been at the forefront of developing a comprehensive, holistic approach to prevent school violence – focusing on community-based education and empowerment. The organization’s Know the Signs programs and the nationwide Say Something Anonymous Reporting System help schools and communities prevent violence by empowering students through education, including averting at least 16 credible planned school shooting attacks and countless other acts of violence and self-harm. The PLAN for School Safety Act will build on this track record and, if passed, unlock additional resources to help keep schools a haven for students.
To support school safety solutions through this new bill, please sign your name here to show Congress your commitment to protecting children. To learn more about school safety policies and violence prevention policies that can protect kids, visit https://actionfund.sandyhookpromise.org/.
The Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund (SHPAF) is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization committed to protecting all children from gun violence in schools, homes, and communities. The SHP Action Fund advances a holistic policy platform that promotes gun safety, youth mental health, and violence prevention education. The organization works at the state and federal level to pass nonpartisan legislation through inclusive partnerships, diverse grassroots education, and community mobilization. It is part of Sandy Hook Promise, founded and led by several family members whose loved ones were killed in the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.
Aimee Thunberg | [email protected] | 646-761-5579