URGENT: Public comments needed on school safety!

March 28th, 2018|Action of the Day|1 Comment

The recently formed Utah School Safety Commission wants to hear from you!

The Utah School Safety Commission was formed after the Parkland shooting with to bring community members together to discuss potential policy ideas that could be used to make Utah schools safer, with the goal of compiling a list of policy recommendations for legislators to potentially consider in a special legislative session and vote into law before the start of the next school year.

The Utah School Safety Commission is now soliciting public comment for recommendations from parents,
teachers, students, voters, and community members on what policies Utahans would like to see
implemented to help prevent gun violence and enhance safety in our schools throughout Utah. They are also holding a series of townhalls to discuss the issues with community members.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

  • Submit your comments to the Commission HERE right away! See below for suggested talking points.
  • Attend a townhall! Schedule of townhall events is listed below, including an event TONIGHT in Logan. Scroll down for details!

Adequate public input is a key part of the Commission’s proposal process. This is a critical opportunity for public feedback and discussion on the safety policies you want prioritized for Utah Schools!

Suggested Talking Points

Tell the members of the Commission what changes you would like to see regarding school safety and violence prevention in Utah schools! Please use your own words.

  • A comprehensive strategy must go behind school security, school locks and structural changes to tackle more difficult issues like mental health and gun responsibility
  • The Commission should include in its list of recommendations to legislators the following policies:
    • “Red Flag” Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) law – proven public health policy to reduce gun deaths, such as mass shootings and suicides, by allowing family members and law enforcement officers to petition a court for a protective order to temporarily remove a persons access to guns if he or she poses an imminent danger to self or others. These laws exist in 5 states already, were passed in 3 others in recent weeks and are currently being considered by nearly 20 others. Congress is also considering a bipartisan federal ERPO bill as well as a bill to incentivize states to pass their own ERPO laws. Find out more about Rep. Steve Handy’s ERPO bill HB 483 here and check out what institutions and orgs support it already here in Utah.
    • Threat Assessment Law – Many states are now rushing to put in place policies fashioned after VA’s law to require Threat Assessment Teams standing by for all public schools from Kindergarten through college to help troubled students before they shoot up a school. The teams to evaluate a reported student’s trouble and decide what, if anything, needs to be done. Virginia law requires that each team must include members with expertise in counseling, instruction, school administration and law enforcement. The VA law was updated in 2016 to give Threat Assessment Teams authority to obtain criminal history and health records of students whose behavior is of concern.
    • Medicaid Expansion – Medicaid expansion is critical to serving a population in need of mental health care in Utah. Although HB 472 passed during the State Legislative Session this Year to expand Medicaid, the law would require a waiver from the federal government that many healthcare experts fear will never be approved. Therefore, supporting the Utah Decides Healthcare ballot initiative to pass guaranteed Medicaid expansion is a crucial piece of the school safety and gun violence prevention puzzle.
    • Additional Mental Healthcare Funding – For the population in Utah who does not qualify, additional mental health services are needed. Utah has one of the lowest numbers of mental health care professionals per capita in the nation. Several bills were passed this year to make most efficient use of our current resources, but more funding is needed to provide more mental health treatment across the state.
    • Expanded Background Checks – Universal background checks is good gun responsibility policy supported by an overwhelming majority of Utahns. A 2016 Public Policy poll, for example, shows that 81% of Utah voters support background checks on all gun purchases, while only 13% oppose them. That includes overwhelming majorities of Democrats, independents and Republicans alike.
  • There are more gun responsibility laws being proposed by students and leaders like Governor Herbert to address school safety. Be sure to mention them if you want to see these laws on the list of recommendations from the Commission.
    • Waiting periods between purchase and pick-up of guns
    • Raising the minimum age to purchase a gun up from 18 unless accompanied by a parent
    • Elimination of bump stocks
    • Ban on military-style weapons
    • Rules to prevent people on the no-fly list from buying guns
    • Ending the Dickey Amendment (which has stymied government research into gun violence)

Townhall meetings discussing school safety and gun violence

So far, the only townhalls scheduled are in Northern Utah. If you live in another part of the state and want to see a townhall, contact your district school board member and ask them to request a townhall on your behalf to make sure your voices is heard. Find your district school board rep by filling in your home address and clicking “Elected Officials” at vote.utah.org.

  • March 28, Cache County Historic Courthouse, Logan, 7PM
  • April 3, Box Elder High School, Brigham City, 7PM
  • April 10, Morgan School District Bldg, Morgan, 7PM
  • April 11, Rich School District Bldg, Randolph, 7PM

One Comment

  1. Katie Bullock March 28, 2018 at 9:25 pm

    I already submitted my comments to the Utah School Safety Commission, but I also wanted to post them here. I’m a public school teacher in Canyons School District, and a few of our schools are being rebuilt (Hillcrest and Brighton). Under the current design plan, interior hallways will all have large, glass windows into each classroom, and the classroom doors are almost entirely glass, as well. As teachers, we voiced our concerns to the board and superintendent, and the design team shrunk the windows…a little bit. Teachers and staff are very concerned about this safety hazard in this era of school shootings, and we are beside ourselves trying to understand why they would gamble with our lives like this. We have been told that they want “transparency,” and that they can “never make a school fully safe.” This is going to be a brand new building with large windows into each classroom — leaving teachers and students as sitting ducks in any active shooter situation. When we do drills in our current building, they have us cover the small windows in our doors and move the students to a safe wall. I can’t fathom how we will do drills effectively in our new building. We really need the public to be aware of this design plan, as teachers are often left unheard. We need help to stop this before the building begins.

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