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School Safety Must Be Our Top Priority

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

Posted on November 19, 2005:

Senator Dyson I recently wrote to you about my intention to pre-file a bill I introduced last year that will create a blue ribbon task force to study safety in our public and private schools. This comprehensive task force will evaluate every aspect of how our school systems address the issue of safety not just in the school, but the entire campus and come up with ideas how we can better protect our children and staff members.

Parents should not have to worry about sending their children off to get a good education while worrying about their safety at the same time. We also owe it to our teachers, administrators, coaches and support staff to keep them safe. Violence on our school campuses is not an option.

The response I have received since that column appeared in several local newspapers has been overwhelmingly supportive. I have received numerous e-mails, telephone calls and words of appreciation from teachers, administrators and regular people on the street supporting this bill.

On November 14, I received a letter from the Maryland Department of Legislative Service Office of Policy Analysis that my bill was in the process of being drafted for introduction at the beginning of the 2006 General Assembly Session.

Since writing my last column on this subject, I read a deeply disturbing report in the November 10, 2005 Metro section of the Washington Post that was headlined: “Friday Nights Not the Same” with the subhead “Violence at Football Games Imperils a Rite of Youth.” I have previously mentioned how high school football games and other athletic events have always been considered a wholesome event including players, students, parents and fans in the community. The Post’s “Rite of Youth” is indeed imperiled.

According to the Post account, since August, 10 major violent events across the country have occurred. They include a student fatally shot in a high school stadium parking lot in Miami, FL, a student and spectator wounded in a parking lot in Morrow, GA, a student charged with attempted murder after randomly shooting at people in a parking lot before a game in Anchorage Alaska. Other similar incidents occurred in Wisconsin, Utah, Texas and Maryland. The most recent came after I published my column, a teenager shot at a football game at Annapolis High School on October 28.

As you can see, the issue of school violence is not isolated to a few events in Maryland. It’s spread literally from sea to shining sea.

I have asked for, but have yet to receive support for this task force from the Maryland Board of Education and State Superintendent of Schools Nancy Grasmick. Superintendent Grasmick incredulously fought this bill last year as did the Maryland Association of Boards of Education.

In my previous column, I implored you to contact Dr. Grasmick to support this bill and I do so again. Dr. Grasmick can be reached via e-mail at ngrasmick@msde.state.md.us or at the Office of the Superintendent, Maryland State Education Building; 200 W. Baltimore Street; Baltimore, MD 21201.

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

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