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DeVos: On school safety, inaction is not an option

The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has horrified our nation, and rightfully so. Such violence has n...

Posted: Mar 17, 2018 9:23 AM
Updated: Mar 17, 2018 9:23 AM

The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has horrified our nation, and rightfully so. Such violence has no place in America's schools.

But like so many Americans, I have found hope in the strength and resolve of the students, teachers and families of Parkland, Florida. During my visit to the school earlier this month, they shared a common call: This must not be another tragedy where the response is all talk but no action.

They're right.

Since the tragedy, President Donald Trump has convened students, parents, teachers, school leaders, mental health and law enforcement professionals who have been affected by violence to identify ways in which schools truly can be made safer. Too often, these discussions have devolved, with people retreating to the usual political corners and talking past each other. That makes no students safer. Even those who have disagreed in the past must now channel their energy into finding constructive solutions.

That is why the President has proposed real actions.

First, we all must acknowledge and address the growing alienation experienced by too many students who feel disconnected from adults and peers around them. Many educators and community leaders have developed innovative ways to foster the social and emotional well-being of their students -- the administration will highlight these approaches and every community should expand them dramatically.

Second, existing mental health programs must be reformed and expanded, including those that help individuals who may be a threat to themselves or others. The President has proposed such changes for mental health programs as well as support for programs that utilize court-ordered treatment. In addition, the President has called on Congress to review statutory and regulatory privacy protections to determine if any changes or clarifications are needed to improve coordination between mental health and other health care professionals, school officials and law enforcement personnel.

Third, our background check system must be strengthened in tandem with implementing evidence-based violence prevention programs. The administration is encouraging every state to adopt Extreme Risk Protection Orders, which allow law enforcement and family members, with approval from a court, to remove firearms from individuals who are a demonstrated threat to themselves or others and to prevent those individuals temporarily from purchasing new firearms.

The President has called for strengthening the National Instant Criminal Background Check System based on the legislative framework introduced by Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, that will help improve the system's accuracy and effectiveness.

Fourth, every community must look at how they can improve the security of our schools. This includes assisting states in training specially qualified school personnel to use firearms on a voluntary basis. Programs such as this currently exist in states including Florida, Texas and Ohio, allowing staff to go through highly specialized courses to be prepared to respond to an incident. Additionally, the administration will develop programs to support the recruitment of military veterans and retired law enforcement -- folks who know how to respond to a dangerous situation -- into new careers in education.

Finally, I will chair a Federal Commission on School Safety, which will provide additional recommendations on school violence prevention. There are best practices that are working today in communities across this country, and our commission will spotlight them and disseminate them to every school. This will not be another 18-month Washington commission that yields an unreadable and unactionable report.

There will be no one-size-fits-all approach for every state, or for every school. But the commission will work to determine the root causes of this kind of violence and will disseminate solutions that individual communities can confidently implement to effect real change.

Finding solutions to improve school safety will be difficult, but we can't shy away from seeking answers just because they are hard. Inaction is not an option.

The parents I've spoken with, such as Andrew Pollack -- the father of Florida shooting victim Meadow Pollack -- know this. He told me he wanted to be the last father to have to put his child in the ground because of an event like this. Parents who lost their children at Columbine, Sandy Hook and in other school shootings share that commitment. They know this is not just about firearms. This is not about politics. This is about protecting our children.

The students have been clear in their demands and justified in their anger. Many across the country have stepped into roles too many adults have abdicated. But this administration will not abandon America's children. We are working to uphold our promise to students to keep them safe in the present as they secure their future at school.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 726600

Reported Deaths: 13379
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion992781737
Lake53359964
Allen40387675
St. Joseph35449550
Hamilton35440408
Elkhart28376439
Tippecanoe22336217
Vanderburgh22271396
Porter18637306
Johnson17876377
Hendricks17154314
Clark12919191
Madison12574339
Vigo12426245
Monroe11845169
LaPorte11773210
Delaware10615185
Howard9859215
Kosciusko9366117
Hancock8239140
Bartholomew8042155
Warrick7766155
Floyd7645177
Grant7019174
Wayne7018199
Boone6669101
Morgan6547139
Dubois6148117
Marshall6000111
Dearborn578577
Cass5780105
Henry5681102
Noble558283
Jackson500472
Shelby489496
Lawrence4492120
Gibson434391
Harrison434271
Clinton426853
DeKalb425284
Montgomery423388
Whitley394439
Huntington387480
Steuben382957
Miami380266
Knox371890
Jasper362747
Putnam358560
Wabash353178
Adams340654
Ripley338970
Jefferson328881
White312854
Daviess295899
Wells290481
Decatur283592
Fayette278662
Greene276685
Posey270933
LaGrange264770
Scott264753
Clay259245
Randolph239781
Washington239532
Spencer231331
Jennings229248
Starke214452
Fountain211946
Sullivan211042
Owen197056
Fulton194640
Jay191830
Carroll188120
Perry182637
Orange182454
Rush172925
Vermillion168343
Franklin167735
Tipton162345
Parke145916
Blackford134532
Pike133034
Pulaski116045
Newton107034
Brown101541
Crawford99114
Benton98414
Martin87815
Warren81415
Switzerland7848
Union70710
Ohio56211
Unassigned0413

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1080121

Reported Deaths: 19344
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1254981392
Cuyahoga1115202107
Hamilton798171200
Montgomery512711012
Summit46997933
Lucas41982782
Butler38273580
Stark32190907
Lorain24910480
Warren24249297
Mahoning21474586
Lake20586368
Clermont19727238
Delaware18496131
Licking16396210
Fairfield16144199
Trumbull15996466
Medina15233262
Greene15027244
Clark13960297
Wood13056188
Portage12806201
Allen11609231
Richland11308198
Miami10659215
Muskingum8795132
Wayne8777210
Columbiana8756229
Pickaway8547121
Marion8511135
Tuscarawas8467243
Erie7859154
Hancock6900126
Ross6835152
Ashtabula6777169
Geauga6665148
Scioto6398101
Belmont5856167
Union570047
Lawrence5542102
Jefferson5511151
Huron5422119
Darke5344122
Sandusky5330120
Seneca5268121
Athens518258
Washington5148109
Auglaize488484
Mercer480185
Shelby468593
Knox4479110
Madison435461
Putnam4268100
Ashland421289
Fulton420969
Defiance418997
Crawford3965106
Brown392957
Logan381176
Preble379098
Clinton370561
Ottawa366279
Highland353861
Williams338075
Champaign330458
Guernsey315453
Jackson312051
Perry294550
Morrow283839
Fayette281449
Hardin270364
Henry268166
Coshocton264258
Holmes2590101
Van Wert242863
Pike237433
Adams237052
Gallia235048
Wyandot230654
Hocking215162
Carroll191247
Paulding172440
Meigs144639
Noble133337
Monroe131942
Morgan108323
Harrison107537
Vinton82415
Unassigned02
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Huntington
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We'll start Friday off dry, but the chance of rain returns. Scattered showers will be possible by late morning until the evening.
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