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President Bush Shocked, Saddened
by Shootings at Virginia Tech

"Schools should be places of safety and sanctuary and learning. When that sanctuary is violated, the impact is felt in every American classroom and every American community."

- President Bush, April 17, 2007

Conference on School Safety:
Resources and After Action Items

A Cover Letter and "Message from the Secretary" summarizing the Conference and stressing the need to develop and practice emergency plans for use in association/school newsletters, Web sites, etc.; as well as the Practical Information on Crisis Planning brochure was e-mailed to all key associations (OCO); post secondary listservs and legislative and chief databases (OCO); and OSDFS listservs and grantees on October 27, 2006. A mass mailing of this letter, message and brochure to all 123,000 K-12 public and private schools was completed on December 15, 2006.

The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools hosted a special School Safety Webcast (November 15, 1-2 p.m. ET) to review emergency planning and suggest how schools can mitigate, prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from a crisis.

In December 2006, the United States Secret Service and United States Department of Education announced the release of the latest tool for educators and communities to improve school safety. The interactive CD-ROM, titled A Safe School and Threat Assessment Experience: Scenarios Exploring the Findings of the Safe School Initiative, is designed to complement the existing Threat Assessment Guide. This CD-ROM, along with a copy of the Guide, was distributed to Superintendents, a small group of core associations, Safe School Centers and School Security Chiefs in January 2007.

The Crisis Planning Guide has been updated and is currently being reassembled with the updated pages/information. It is slated to be distributed to Superintendents, associations, Safe School Centers and School Security Chiefs at the end of April 2007.

Conference on School Safety

"Our schoolchildren should never fear [for] their safety when they enter into a classroom."

- President George W. Bush, 10/3/06

October 10, 2006 -- The Conference On School Safety Will Help Empower Communities To Keep Our Children Safe. Recently, America experienced tragic school shootings in Colorado, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, and threats of violence that locked down or closed schools in many other States. In response, President Bush asked Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Education Secretary Margaret Spellings to convene a meeting of leading experts and stakeholders to discuss how Federal, State, and local governments can work together with schools, communities, and families to help ensure our schools are safe places for students to learn. The conference is taking place at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

The Conference Will Bring Together Experts, Law Enforcement Officials, Schools, Communities, And Families To:

  • Highlight best practices for making schools safe;
  • Share lessons learned from prior incidents of school violence; and
  • Bring together resources and experts on how to make schools safer and help communities and families recover from school tragedies.

Panel I: Preventing Violence In Schools

Moderated By Attorney General Gonzales, Panel I Will Focus On Examining The Scope Of The School Violence Problem And Discussing Concrete Steps To Prevent Crime And Violence. Law enforcement has already learned many lessons from prior instances of school violence, such as the tragic Columbine shootings. The goal of this "best practices" session is to share practical ideas and solutions from law enforcement and security experts to help safeguard our schools from external and internal threats. The panel discussion will focus specifically on facility security, threat assessments, specialized enforcement expertise, and law enforcement community outreach.

  • Panel I Participants: Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Moderator
    • Jeffery Dawsy, Sheriff, Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (Beverly Hills, FL)
    • Delbert S. Elliott, Ph.D., Director of the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at the University of Colorado (Boulder, CO)
    • Thomas Kube, Executive Director and CEO, Council of Educational Facility Planners (Scottsdale, AZ)
    • Georgeann C. Rooney, Threat Assessment Specialist, U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center (Arlington, VA)
    • Fred Wegener, Sherriff (Park County, CO)
    • Gregory A. White, U.S. Attorney, Northern District of Ohio (North Ridgeville, OH)

Panel II: Prepared Schools And Communities Are Safer

Moderated By Secretary Spellings, Panel II Will Focus On Steps Schools And Communities Can Take To Help Prevent Future Tragedies. Schools are generally safe places, but they can be made safer. The panel will discuss how school administrators and teachers, parents, students, law enforcement, and community groups can best coordinate their efforts to ensure their schools are prepared and safe. The panel will highlight effective prevention and intervention practices, model programs, and crisis plans that could be adapted by communities and districts.

  • Panel II Participants: Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, Moderator
    • Frederick Ellis, Director, Office of Safety & Security, Fairfax County Public Schools (Fairfax, VA)
    • James Moore, Founder and President, WatchDOGS (Springhill, AR)
    • The Honorable Jane Norton, Lieutenant Governor, CO (Denver, CO)
    • Chiarasay E. "Chiara" Perkins, Student, Walton Senior High School and President, Youth Crime Watch of Walton County (DeFuniak Springs, FL)
    • Dr. George Sugai, Professor and Neag Endowed Chair, Neag School of Education University of Connecticut (Storrs, CT) Patrick D. Weil, Principal, Valparaiso High School (Valparaiso, IN)

Panel III: Helping Communities Heal And Recover

Moderated By Secretary Spellings, Panel III Will Focus On The Short- And Long-Term Needs Of Schools And Communities Following Traumatic Events. The immediate goal in helping schools and communities recover from trauma is returning to a normal routine, but schools must also focus on long-term planning, including addressing post-traumatic stress and preparing for high-stress events such as anniversaries. This panel will highlight effective strategies, organizations, and resources that schools and communities can use for additional help in recovering from traumatic events. Mrs. Laura Bush will deliver brief remarks prior to the start of this panel discussion.

  • Panel III Participants: Secretary Spellings, Moderator
    • Jamie B. Baggett, Teacher, Stewart County High School (Dover, TN)
    • Betty Alvarez Ham, Founder and President, City Impact (Ventura, CA)
    • Dr. Larry Macaluso, Superintendent, Red Lion School District (Red Lion, PA)
    • Cathy Paine, Special Programs Administrator, Springfield School District (Springfield, OR)
    • Craig Scott, Columbine High School Survivor (Aurora, CO)
    • Marleen Wong, Ph.D., Director of Crisis Counseling and Intervention Services, Los Angeles Unified School District and Director of the Trauma Services Adaptation Center for Schools and Communities (Los Angeles, CA)

Closing Discussion: Working Together To Make Our Schools Safe

Moderated By Attorney General Gonzales And Secretary Spellings, The Closing Discussion Will Be A Summary Discussion Between President Bush And A Representative Group Of Panel Participants Who Will Share Lessons Learned And Concrete Ways Schools And Communities Can Work Together After The Conference.