GREAT MILLS, MD -- Responding to several tragic incidences of violence in schools just a month into the new school year, Senator Roy Dyson (D-St. Marys, Calvert, Charles) wrote to Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., House Speaker Michael E. Busch and other officials yesterday asking them to name members to the Task Force on School Safety which was signed into law by Governor Ehrlich on May 16, 2006.
Senator Dyson successfully introduced Senate Bill 146—Task Force to on School Safety during the 2006 General Assembly Session.
In his letters to Governor Ehrlich, President Miller, Speaker Busch, State Schools Superintendent Nancy Grasmick and Maryland State Police Superintendent Thomas E. Tim Hutchins, Dyson wrote: Thank you for your support of Senate Bill 146 which was signed into law on May 16, 2006. As you know, there have been a rash of terrible, tragic incidences of unspeakable violence in schools all across this country over the past couple of weeks.
The latest tragedy occurred just yesterday at a once-peaceful one-room school house in the Amish community of Lancaster, PA. My heart broke when I heard about this awful act of violence on the news. In Southern Maryland, we felt a special kinship and sadness with the Amish community in Pennsylvania since we too have many Amish families in our area.
We have a law on the books (Chapter 426) that will put together a blue ribbon task force to address the issue of violence in our public and private schools.
So far, nothing has been done to establish this task force. I understand you are very busy as we all are at this time of year. But after these rash of incidents at schools ranging from Colorado to Pennsylvania, I believe it is imperative that we form this task force immediately.
In his letter to the Governor and the presiding officers of the Maryland Senate and House, Senator Dyson asked that the governor appoint—as the law dictates—various members of the community and government to the task force. The governor, by law, is assigned to appoint two public school students, two parents of public school students, one representative who is knowledgeable in serving students with disabilities and one representative of school bus drivers.
The presiding officers are to appoint one member of their respective chambers. The law also states that the task force should be comprised of the State Superintendent of Schools or their designee; two representatives of the Maryland Association of Boards of Education appointed by the association; four public school teachers from different geographic areas of the state, the Superintendent of the State Police or a designee and the Attorney General of Maryland or a designee.
We never like to believe that our children are not safe at schools, Senator Dyson said. However, the recent spate of violence including the death of a teenage girl at one school, a principal who was a victim of a shooting at another school and now the deaths of five young, helpless Amish girls proves our schools can be vulnerable to violence. I absolutely pray we never have incidences like this in Maryland or anywhere else. But as these random acts of violence all across the country prove, these outbreaks can happen anywhere, anytime. That is why I have urged the Governor and the presiding officers to move as fast as possible to put this task force together. Wouldnt it be a shame if an incident like this came up which the task force could have addressed?