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March 1, 2013

School safety commission close to issuing recommendations

STILLWATER, Okla. — A safety commission charged with the task of making schools safer in Oklahoma has drafted more than three dozen recommendations for legislative action.

The Oklahoma Commission on School Security discussed 39 proposals Wednesday in a meeting at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City.

The proposals include an array of suggestions,  said Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, task force chairman. The findings include more mental health awareness and treatment for at-risk students, mandatory training for school employees on bullying and preparing for emergencies. They also include the creation of a statewide school security institute that would coordinate and standardize school security procedures.

The task force was formed after 20 children and six school employees were killed in a shooting rampage in December at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

The 22-member commission, comprised of mental health experts, school administrators, law enforcement personnel and educators, met twice in Oklahoma City to discuss strategies on how to ensure safety in schools.

Morrison Public Schools science teacher Tammy Will was appointed to the task force. Will, who teaches seventh- and eighth-grade science, is the only educator on the panel.

Lamb said the task force heard eight presentations from an array of experts in various fields, including a canine handler who talked about searching school grounds.

Ashley Kehl, director of communications for Lamb, said the commission split in two breakout groups on Wednesday to identify the 20 most common findings about how to improve school security. She said the suggestions included, among other things, architectural design of school buildings and the number and job responsibilities of school resource officers on campus.

The commission will next meet at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at the State Capitol to vote on its final list of recommendations, and later that day announce at a press conference policy recommendations that will be submitted to the state legislature. Lamb said the commission’s findings will be boiled down to approximately five recommendations for consideration by the legislature.


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