"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 George W. Bush, 4/17/07
In the wake of the Virginia Tech shooting, President Bush called on U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt to lead a national dialogue on the ways that the nation can take steps to prevent future acts of violence.
Federal officials traveled across the country to meet with state and local leaders, educators, mental health experts, parents, students, and law enforcement officials. A total of twelve meetings were held across the nation. Upon completion of this national tour, Secretary Spellings, Secretary Leavitt and Attorney General Gonzales provided a report to President Bush that outlines how the federal government can best help states and localities keep students safe (see link above).
There were several recurring themes heard across the country. These included the need for additional guidance on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the federal law that protects the privacy of students' education records, as well as information on resources that are available to help schools and Institutions of Higher Education plan for, respond to, and recover from a serious incident.
In response to these comments, we have provided a list of resources below that include information on FERPA and key emergency management resources available from the Department.
Unfortunately, since the tragic events at Virginia Tech, there have been other incidents of school violence including a recent shooting in Cleveland, Ohio. This situation reinforces the fact that the dialogue is far from over. We must continue to work together to ensure the safety of our nation's youth in schools and universities.
Secretary Spellings would like to hear from you. Please share your thoughts and comments by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your ideas will help Secretary Spellings and staff at the Department of Education as we develop new programs and information on school safety.
Please take advantage of the numerous school safety resources available from the U.S. Department of Education, including:
- FERPA Guide and Brochure
- Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools (OSDFS), Emergency Planning Web Site
- Report to the President on Issues Raised by the Virginia Tech Tragedy
- Readiness & Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) Technical Assistance Center
- Practical Information on Crisis Planning: A Guide for Schools and Communities
- Threat Assessment in Schools: A Guide to Managing Threatening Situations and to Creating Safe School Climates
- Tips for Helping Students Recovering from Traumatic Events
- School Preparedness Virtual Town Hall
- Emergency Management for Schools Archived Webcast
- Conference on School Safety
Additional resources can be found at: http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/safety/schoolsafety/, http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ and at edpubs.ed.gov
To read the Secretary's "Notes From the Road" online travel log, which includes details on the national dialogue on school safety, please visit: http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/notesfromtheroad/