US House Adds New Subcommittee (February 3, 2019)

Last week, the House Education and Labor Committee voted to add a new subcommittee on civil rights and human services. The formation of the new subcommittee is in response to the Trump Administration’s controversial decisions regarding civil rights in education and the alarm they have precipitated.

The new panel will be chaired by Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) and the leading Republican on the subcommittee is Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.).

Safety and Security Grant Changes Announced by PCCD (February 3, 2019)

The School Safety and Security Committee of the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) sent a memo dated January 31, 2019 informing school entities that filed for the Part B competitive grants of a three (3) week period for the revision and re-submitting of their applications beginning February 4, 2019 and ending February 25, 2019. The memo can be viewed at https://www.psba.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/School-Safety-and-Security-Program-Grant-.pdf
 
The committee decided to grant allow applicants to revise their grant requests due to the large response and competitiveness regarding the application process.

PCCD announces urgent changes for school safety and security grant applicants

This week the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency’s (PCCD) School Safety and Security Committee informed school entities that filed for the Part B competitive grants that there will be a three-week period to revise and resubmit their applications based on updated information. The period will begin on Monday, Feb. 4 and end on Monday, Feb. 25, 2019.

The committee reported that it has received $315 million worth of requests for school safety improvement grants, while only $40 million remains available for distribution. Given that the committee will only be able to fund approximately 13% of the original funds requested, a decision was made to allow applicants to revise their grant requests and that final grant revisions focus on the most critical locally identified safety priorities. The following items must be clearly addressed in the final application:  Articulation of why the requested item(s) are needed and how the need was identified (i.e., cite school safety assessment, recognized best practices, developed strategy based on local data, etc.) (Statement of Purpose section).  Description of why the applicant needs additional financial resources to enhance security (Statement of Purpose section).  Description of plan for sustaining recurring costs or a statement that there are no recurring costs in the application (Project Description section). Final recommended projects will be taken to the committee’s April 30, 2019 meeting.  Projects receiving awards will be posted online on the School Safety and Security webpage on the www.pccd.pa.gov website no later than May 1, 2019. The full announcement can be found here.

DeVos Announces Initiative to Address Inappropriate Use of Restraint and Seclusion Regarding Children with Disabilities and to Ensure Compliance with Law (January 22, 2019)

On Thursday, January 17, 2019 U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) is launching an initiative to address the possible inappropriate use of restraint and seclusion in our nation’s schools. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR), in partnership with the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), will oversee this initiative, which aims to protect students with disabilities by providing technical assistance and support to schools, school districts, and state education agencies, while strengthening enforcement activities.

USDE’s initiative will include three components, which are: Compliance Reviews conducted by OCR focusing on recipients’ use of restraint and seclusion on children with disabilities; CRDC Data Collection; and Support for Recipients.

Safe2Say Gets Underway (January 15, 2019)

Yesterday, January 14, 2019, PA schools implemented a new anonymous tip line. Safe2Say Something is a result of a partnership between the Office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General and Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit organization begun by loved ones of the victims of the school shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut.

Safe2Say Something is an anonymous tip line that will be available 24/7/365 in all Pennsylvania schools for students in grades six through 12. Anyone can use the tip line to submit an anonymous tip regarding persons who may be a threat to themselves and/or others. To submit a tip, people can call the hotline at 1-844-SAF2SAY (1-844-723-2729) or on their own phone through the Safe2Say app.

Tips goes through the PA Attorney General’s Office, where they are evaluated. If the tip is life-threatening, it immediately referred to law enforcement. If a tip is not felt to be life-threatening, it is forwarded to a designated team within the school district(s) involved.

Some school districts have expressed concern over what they see as a lack of preparedness for the implementation of the program, and some have passed resolutions to that affect. However, according to a January  3, 2019 letter from the PA Attorney General’s Office to school districts, “The January 14, 2019, launch date is written into statute, and our office will be ready to receive, triage and forward all tips to school entities, and 911 dispatch as necessary, across the Commonwealth. These tips will save lives.” Safe2Say has begun accepting tips from Commonwealth students, but it still is “a work in progress,” said Joe Grace, spokesman for PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

Of course, in addition to the tip line, students can always talk directly to a school staff member or police.