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School Safety Task Force Needed More Now Than Ever

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

Posted on October 25, 2005:

Senator Dyson You may have read some pretty startling, frightening incidents in the last few weeks about violent incidents or threats in our public schools throughout Maryland.

Just last week, a teacher was beaten by one of their students by a baseball bat because the teacher gave the student a bad grade. There have also been several shootings at football games in Montgomery County and I read in one of our recent papers that a student was suspended from Huntingtown High School after mentioning the horrendous Columbine High School incident while arguing with a fellow student. Iíve also heard reports that teachers in our local school systems are being threatened with bodily injury, even death.

This is setting up a tsunami of intense concern about school violence. We do not need another Columbine-like incident to occur in Maryland. I believe it is the job of the General Assembly to protect our students and school personnel to the best of our ability.

Currently our students and teachers are under attack. It pains me to see accounts of students attacking their teachers or each other. When I was a student at Great Mills High School, going to a football game was a great time. The students, teachers, administrators, staff, parents and fans came out to root on the home team in a safe atmosphere. It was family values at its best. Now, because of recent violence at football games, security is tightened and a lot of the fun that I remember as a youth has gone out of these games. A sense of dread in ever-present. This isnít right.

During last yearís General Assembly Session, I introduced a bill, Senate Bill 501 which would have established a state task force on school safety. I was absolutely stunned when my bill was opposed by not only the State Superintendent of Schools, Nancy Grasmick, but also the Maryland Association of Boards of Education. In their opposition, both the State Board of Education and MABE essentially said everything was fine in our schools and the task force wasnít necessary.

I couldnít believe they took such a simplistic, head-in-the-sand approach to what I believed -- and still do believe that it was common sense legislation.

After these latest series of incidents, I hope Superintendent Grasmick and MABE will join with me in supporting this much-needed bill.

The task force calls for a series of diverse representatives including members of the General Assembly, the State Board of Education, MABE, four public school teachers from different geographic areas of the State, two parents of public school students, one representative from a nonpublic school, a representative from the State Police and a representative from the Attorney Generalís office.

The Task Force on School Safetyís mission is to evaluate and make recommendations regarding:

1) Methods to address the growing incidence of student violence in public and private schools.

2) Methods to provide a safe learning environment for students.

3) Whether it is feasible to use video surveillance cameras, metal detectors or other security devices to improve safety.

4) Ensure the safety of students to and from school during non-instructional hours.

5) Ensuring school officials and public safety personnel respond to crises including acts and threats of violence by students; accidental injury and loss; natural disasters and exposure to hazardous or radiological substances.

I encourage everyone who supports my bill to contact Dr. Grasmick and ask her to support the School Safety Task Force Bill that I will re-introduce in the upcoming General Assembly Session.

Dr. Grasmick can be reached at Office of the Superintendent; Maryland State Education Building; 200 West Baltimore Street; Baltimore, MD 21201-2595 or via e-mail at ngrasmick@msde.state.md.us.

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

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