250: The Blog
Press Shop | 08.03.2018
In the days after the shooting at the high school in Parkland, Florida, Governor Asa Hutchinson created the Arkansas School Safety Commission. He appointed Dr. Cheryl May, director of Arkansas’ Criminal Justice Institute, and ex-FBI Special Agent Bill Temple, to lead it.
The governor was two weeks ahead of President Donald Trump, who established the national School Safety Commission and named Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to lead it.
The members of the Arkansas commission have visited schools around the state, inspected buildings, and interviewed educators and parents. The committee submitted its preliminary report the first week of July. The governor has asked the committee to submit its final report by the end of November.
“The most significant thing we can do is perhaps the most difficult thing, and that is pay attention to those subtle signs that a teen is troubled,” Governor Hutchinson says. “In many of the recent shootings at schools, investigators discovered that suspects had displayed symptoms of mental-health issues or a potential for violence. Counselors and teachers either failed to notice or didn’t know how to proceed if they did.
“In Arkansas, our counselors have to spend too much time on paperwork. We need to free them up from that so they have time to talk to students, to observe them. We must have threat-assessment teams that coordinate with counselors when a student’s behavior suggests a potential for violence.”
President Trump’s school safety commission is taking a similar approach. The commissioners are holding meetings in Washington, D.C., and they are meeting at schools with educators, local law-enforcement agents, and parents.
In addition to the work of the Arkansas School Safety Commission, the governor is conducting research of his own. In July, he attended a school-safety roundtable that included Texarkana Schools Superintendent Becky Kesler and representatives from the community. In August, Attorney General Sessions and members of his commission met with Governor Hutchinson and local leaders in Pearcy at Lake Hamilton High School.
CLICK HERE to view more photos of the Arkansas School Safety Commission's Preliminary Report Press Conference.
Next up on 250: Texarkana Schools Superintendent Becky Kesler learned from a real-life incident the value of a school-safety plan.