Governor Finally Staffs Dyson-Sponsored School Safety Task Force

Governor finally staffs school Safety Task Force that Dyson has been trying to implement since 2004. Slaughter of Amish school children in Pennsylvania may have been the impetus.

ANNAPOLIS - The Maryland Governor's office has announced appointments to a newly formed Task Force on School Safety. Ms. Kathleen Lyon, executive director of student services for St. Mary's County Public Schools, is among the 19 appointees. Among the topics that will be studied by the task force are the potential for natural disasters, exposure to hazardous substances, and planning for emergencies.

The Task Force on School Safety is a direct result of Senate Bill 146 that was successfully introduced by Senator Roy Dyson (D-29) in 2006. Dyson represents southern Maryland. The task force was signed into law on May 16, 2006.

This was not Dyson's first attempt to get the bill passed into law. He first introduced Senate Bill 501 in the 2004 General Assembly Session, but the bill did not make it through both the Senate and the House of Delegates. "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," said Dyson in his October 25, 2005 newsletter. "In their opposition, both the State Board of Education and MABE essentially said everything was fine in our schools and the task force wasn’t necessary."

When the 2006 school year started this fall, Governor Ehrlich had still not named appointments to the task force—more than 3 months after being signed into law. This prompted Dyson to write a letter—shortly after the murder of several Amish School children in Pennsylvania—to the Governor, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., House Speaker Michael E. Busch, and other officials urging them to name members so that the task force could get underway.

“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," said Dyson in the letter. “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 [sic] rash of incidents at schools ranging from Colorado to Pennsylvania, I believe it is imperative that we form this task force immediately.”

Seven task force members were appointed by the governor, and the rest were named in consultation with the president of the Senate, the speaker of the House, the state superintendent of schools, the Maryland Association of Boards of Education, the Maryland State Police, and the attorney general of Maryland.

The task force will begin convening once the Senate president and the House speaker select a chair from among the members. Findings and recommendations on issues related to school safety will be reported no later than December 1, 2007.

The complete roster of the Task Force on School Safety members is listed below.

Parent Representatives
Donald T. Bridges, Baltimore County
Christopher F. Drummond, Esquire, Queen Anne's County

Student Representatives
Jillian Shpuntoff, Anne Arundel County
Corinne Ung, Howard County

Public School Teachers
Lorraine Anders, Talbot County
Jane Brandt, Frederick County
Patricia Cook-Ferguson, Baltimore County
Elizabeth Weller, Kent County

Nonpublic School Representative
Michael G. Caruso, Ph.D., Montgomery County

Knowledgeable in Serving Students with Disabilities
Kathleen M. Lyon, St. Mary's County

School Psychiatrist/Sociologist
Cynthia Shulmeyer, Howard County

Representatives of Maryland Association of Boards of Education
John A. Hayden, III, Esquire, Baltimore County
Patricia B. O'Neill, Montgomery County

Representative of School Bus Drivers
Robert A. Ginter, Carroll County

Representing Maryland General Assembly
Honorable Gwendolyn Britt, Prince George's County
Honorable Nancy King, Montgomery County

Departmental Representatives
Ann Chafin, Representing State Superintendent of Schools
Colonel Walter Landon, Representing Secretary of State


Dyson Urges Officials, Governor to Act on Safe Schools Task Force

Safe Schools Task Force Passes in General Assembly
Roy Dyson, 2006-Apr-14

School Safety Task Force Needed More Now Than Ever
Roy Dyson, 2005-Oct-25

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