School Safety

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Virginia has a duty to make sure that our schools are safe and supportive for all students. Across the nation, tragic gun violence in schools has brought increased focus to the resources needed to keep all students safe. To ensure school safety, Virginia must increase support staff, including counselors, nurses, social workers, and psychologists in all elementary and secondary schools; improve school policing accountability; invest in positive school discipline and school climate; and broaden the accessibility of supports and services for all children.

LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY

Letter Urging General Assembly to Invest in Student Supports to Increase School Safety (July 2018)

Coverage

REPORTS

Investing in Student Safety and Success: The Growing Importance of Effective Staffing in Virginia Schools (2018)
This report from the Legal Aid Justice Center and The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis details the decreases in K-12 school staffing and increases in student enrollment that have left school counselors, social workers, psychologists, and nurses with increased caseloads and administrative responsibilities and less time for direct student support. These positions play essential roles in meeting student mental health needs, keeping all students safe and engaged, and helping students achieve academic and career success. 

Coverage

Protecting Childhood: A Blueprint for Developmentally Appropriate School Policing in Virginia (2016)
This Legal Aid Justice Center report describes the problems with school policing in Virginia and then provides recommendations for reforms. The appendices include tools for lawmakers and policymakers, such as a model Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that school divisions and law enforcement agencies can use to incorporate best practices.  

OTHER RESOURCES

Virginia’s Eroding Standards of Quality (2016)
This report from The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis sheds light on the support staff crisis in Virginia’s PreK-12 schools. Since 2009, Virginia has under-funded school support positions across the state by about $378 million annually. These positions include professional staff who help to care for the physical and mental health of students.