Oct 03 2018
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) led his Senate and House colleagues in urging Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, and members of the Federal Commission on School Safety, to include in their final recommendation the creation of a central authority to help school districts seeking to improve safety features within new and existing schools. The letter urges DeVos “to ensure tight coordination and collaboration of effort among all federal agencies that are working on different aspects of school safety in order to eliminate duplication, redundancy, and waste of valuable resources.” The Commission, led by Secretary DeVos, also includes Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen.
Rubio worked closely with Max Schachter – father of Parkland shooting victim, Alex Schachter, and CEO and founder of Safe Schools for Alex – who also testified before the Federal Commission on School Safety on the importance of ensuring our children are safe at school.
Joining Rubio was Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), as well as U.S. Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Brian Mast (R-FL), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), Darren Soto (D-FL), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Al Lawson (D-FL), Charlie Crist (D-FL), Dennis Ross (R-FL), Vern Buchanan (R-FL), Bill Posey (R-FL), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), John Rutherford (R-FL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Rod Blum (R-IA), Barbara Comstock (R-VA), Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Francis Rooney (R-FL), Steve Knight (R-CA), Susan Brooks (R-IN), Neal Dunn (R-FL), Tom Rooney (R-FL), Mike Coffman (R-CO), Lou Barletta (R-PA), Ted Yoho (R-FL), and Keith Rothfus (R-PA).
The full text of the letter is below.
Dear Secretary DeVos:
Thank you for your continued leadership on the Federal Commission on School Safety. We applaud the work and coordination between Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security and Justice to tackle this incredibly important issue and for bringing in expert witnesses to help you craft much needed recommendations.
There is an immense need to make a central point of information available to states and local education agencies on ways to improve school safety. Our nation’s educators are trained to teach and are not always equipped to identify weaknesses in school safety. They are also not the experts on what are the best, most cost effective ways to harden schools. However, the federal government has the capability to compile best practices and resources for educators that would like assistance on how to improve school safety without detracting from school elements that are conducive to learning. This is why we must explore the feasibility of creating a central clearing house or repository to make sure all our efforts are being coordinated.
School safety is a top priority for this country. As a result, we are exposing the drastic inefficiencies of a patchwork of federal agencies performing important, but separate work in pursuing the same goal. Each agency is working independently and the lack of coordination and overall direction is hindering progress necessary to keep our children safe and prevent these tragedies from happening in the future. A central authority is needed to ensure tight coordination and collaboration of effort among all federal agencies that are working on different aspects of school safety in order to eliminate duplication, redundancy, and waste of valuable resources.
We urge you to include, as a recommendation in your final report, that a central clearing house be created and a central authority be identified. School safety deserves the considerable resources of the federal government to work in unison to keep America’s children safe at school. Schools, districts, and states that are working to keep schools safe need to see a united effort by the federal government to support them.
We look forward to working with you on this issue and ensuring that our efforts are being properly focused on keeping our children, teachers and families across this nation safe.