Changes to school discipline rules among safety panel recommendations

Trump's panel set up after Parkland shooting releases 177-page report

By COLLIN BINKLEY, Associated Press, Francine Frazier - Senior web producer

WASHINGTON - Among 93 best practices and policy recommendations released Tuesday, President Donald Trump's school safety commission is proposing a rollback of Obama-era guidance that was meant to curb racial disparities in school discipline.

The commission was led by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and spent months researching and visiting successful programs around the country and listening to testimony from experts and concerned citizens. Trump created the panel in March following a school shooting in Parkland that left 17 students and staff dead.

Among the commission's chief proposals released in a 177-page report is a rollback of 2014 guidance discouraging schools from suspending or expelling students or reporting them to police. The guidance was created after a finding that black students faced severe discipline far more often than whites.

But the commission says the guidance left schools afraid to take action against potentially violent students.

The panel's report does not encourage schools to arm teachers and other school employees but provides guidelines if they choose to.

The commission's news release said the report "offers a holistic approach to improving school safety, ranging from supporting the social and emotional well-being of students to enhancing physical building security. 

The report is not intended as a one-size-fits-all solution but as a resource guide for families, educators, law enforcement officers, health professionals and elected leaders, the commission said.

“Each of us has an important role to play in keeping our students safe while at school,” DeVos said in the news release. “Through the commission’s work, it has become even clearer there is no single policy that will make our schools safer. What will work for schools in Montana will be different than what will work for schools in Manhattan. With that in mind, this report provides a wide-ranging menu of best practices and resources that all state, community, and school leaders should consider while developing school safety plans and procedures that will work for their students and teachers.”

The recommendations are based on efforts that are already working in states and local communities.

The Federal Commission on School Safety Report contains 19 chapters divided into three sections based on well-established phases of security planning:

PREVENT

1. Character Development and a Culture of Connectedness 
2. Cyberbullying and School Safety 
3. Curating a Healthier and Safer Approach: Issues of Mental Health and Counseling for Our Young 
4. Integrating Mental Health, Primary Care, Family Services, and Court-Ordered Treatment 
5. Using Suspicious Activity Reporting and Threat Assessments to Enhance School Safety 
6. Effects of Press Coverage of Mass Shootings 
7. Violent Entertainment and Rating Systems 
8. The Obama Administration’s “Rethink School Discipline” Guidance 
9. The Effectiveness and Appropriateness of Psychotropic Medication for Treatment of Troubled Youth 
10. The Efficacy of Age Restrictions for Firearm Purchases 
11. Extreme Risk Protection Order Laws 
12. Improvements to the FBI’s Public Access Line 

PROTECT & MITIGATE

13. Training School Personnel to Help Ensure Student Safety 
14. Emergency and Crisis Training for Law Enforcement 
15. The Transition of Military Veterans and Retired Law Enforcement Officials into New Careers in Education 
16. Best Practices for School Building Security 
17. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and Other Statutory and Regulatory Privacy Protections 
18. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Other Statutory and Regulatory Privacy Protections 

RESPOND & RECOVER

19. Active Shooter Preparedness and Mitigation 

To view the report in its entirety, click here.

For more information on the field visits, listening sessions, roundtables and other resources used to produce the report, visit the school safety website.

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