• School Safety

    School safety commission misses the mark by ignoring guns

    A federal school safety commission that formed after the Parkland, Florida, school massacre won’t be focusing on guns. That’s according to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who stated recently that firearms were “not part of the commission’s charge per se.” She made the remark in response to a U.S. senator who asked if the commission would consider the role of firearms in school violence. Of course, if the commission were to focus on just guns, they would miss the mark. But as a scholar who studies school safety, I similarly believe if the commission ignores one of the main contributors to school shootings – particularly one as important as the…

  • School Safety

    Improving school climate, not just security, is key to violence prevention

    School shootings like the one that took place in Santa Fe, Texas, on May 18 are often followed by calls for enhanced security measures. But Santa Fe High School already had many of these security measures in place. For instance, the high school had a school resource officer who responded to the attack. The school also had security cameras in place and had recently conducted active shooting training and drills. As the nation searches for ways to prevent school violence, the focus must be as much on school climate and culture as it is on school security. I make this argument as an educational researcher who studies school safety.v

  • Equity,  School Safety

    A school resource officer in every school?

    Less than three weeks after a school resource officer stopped an armed teen who shot two students at a Maryland high school, lawmakers in Maryland voted to expand law enforcement presence in schools statewide. The Maryland Safe to Learn Act of 2018, signed into law by Gov. Larry Hogan on April 10, requires all public schools in Maryland to have a designated school resource officer, more commonly known as an SRO, or “adequate local law enforcement coverage” by the 2019-2020 school year. Maryland’s bill follows a similiar state law passed in Florida. Additionally, a number of local school districts nationwide are considering or have recently announced expansions of law enforcement…

  • School Safety

    Federal spending bill deals blow to school safety research

    Long before the current state of heightened attention to school shootings, my colleagues and I began a two-year study of school safety and the role of law enforcement officers in public schools. Our work is funded by the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative of the National Institute of Justice. To date, the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative has funded 100 research projects that involve almost US$250 million in total. Research projects have looked at things ranging from school emergency response plans to policing strategies that use alternatives to arrest. Collectively, this research is meant to build a robust evidence base so policymakers can use proven ways to keep students safe in school.…

  • Discipline,  Equity

    Zero tolerance laws increase suspension rates for black students

    The State Senate of Michigan is currently considering legislation that would scale back “zero tolerance” discipline policies in the state’s public schools. Zero tolerance discipline laws require automatic and generally severe punishment for specified offenses that could range from possessing weapons to physical assault. They leave little leeway for consideration of the circumstances of the offense. The bill, already approved by the State House, proposes to add provisions that would consider the contextual factors around an incident, such as the student’s disciplinary history, and would ask whether lesser forms of punishment would suffice.