NC House School Safety Committee shares list of recommendations

RALEIGH, NC (WBTV) - The North Carolina House School Safety Committee has come up with a list of recommendations they hope will help keep students safer in classrooms across the state.

The committee, appointed by House Speaker Tim Moore in February, planned to make a formal, public introduction of its proposal on Thursday but previewed their recommendations exclusively with WBTV during On Your Side Tonight with Jamie Boll.

The recommendations include budget proposals aimed at strengthening both mental health and physical safety issues in NC schools. Among the proposals is $5 million for a state-wide app that will allow students to report abuse anonymously, $12 million for a school resource officer (SRO) grant program, $4 million for school facility improvements such as cameras and doors, and 'significant' year-one funding for nurses, psychologists, counselors, and social workers.

"The steps the committee took will have a real improvement in the lives of our students. Both working groups came up with a set of recommendations that included more mental health opportunities in the school system, more counseling and peer to peer programs for students, better preparation for threats, and a focus on putting more school resource officers in schools," the committee stated in their list of recommendations.

"They are focusing not only on the immediate need to protect our children from attackers but also to prevent problems from arising in the first place."

The complete list of recommendations are:

Mental Health Recommendations

  • Recommendation 1: Accept the Nationally Certified School Psychologist Credential as Complete Fulfillment of the requirements for licensure as a School Psychologist.
  • Recommendation 2: Continue work to meet national recommendations for staffing of student support positions to improve care and intervention.
  • Recommendation 3: Require threat assessment teams in all public schools.
  • Recommendation 4: Require peer to peer counseling programs in middle and high schools to identify and assist students with social, emotional, and behavioral needs.
  • Recommendation 5: Develop a plan to efficiently coordinate care among mental health support professionals.
  • Recommendation 6: Funding should be provided for expansion statewide of applications that allow anonymous reporting on potential threats, abuse, or related issues.

Physical Safety Recommendations

  • Recommendation 7: Study armed security options for nonpublic schools.
  • Recommendation 8: Study expansion and requirements of volunteer school resource officer program.
  • Recommendation 9: Extend mandatory safety plan and drill requirement to all public schools and encourage nonpublic school participation.
  • Recommendation 10: Implement training and continuing education requirements for school resource officers.
  • Recommendation 11: Appropriate an additional $1.8 million to fund grants for school resource officers.
  • Recommendation 12: Require facility vulnerability assessments for each school building.
  • Recommendation 13: Require local Boards of Education to report annually on school resource officers.
  • Recommendation 14: House Bill 285, Suicide Prevention/Awareness School Personnel should be enacted.

Preliminary indications are that the NC Senate will follow the recommendations of the House committee but nothing has been finalized.

Lawmakers are expected to address the list of recommendations during this year's short session both through the budget and also through additional legislation.

Copyright 2018 WBTV. All rights reserved.