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State Superintendent Mark Johnson Addresses School Safety Improvements

school safety State Superintendent Mark Johnson Addresses School Safety Improvements
Elizabeth Yelverton | NCASA

On Tuesday, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson held a press conference in Raleigh to discuss efforts to improve student and staff safety in North Carolina public schools, officially proclaiming September as NC School Safety Month. Superintendent Johnson was joined by administrators, legislators, members of law enforcement, statewide organization leaders, and mental health professionals in discussing plans to make schools safer for all students.

Johnson discussed specific steps taken in the past months, in collaboration with members of the legislature, to improve school safety, as part of a $35 million package of school safety initiatives included in the 2018 state budget. Such initiatives include $23 million in grants for school safety enhancements, such as increasing the number of trained school resource officers in elementary and middle schools, as well as providing further funding for the purchase of safety equipment and additional school mental health support personnel. Legislators also provided the Department of Public Instruction with an additional $5 million to generate a statewide anonymous “safety tip line” application, creating an innovative platform for reporting school safety concerns, such as threats of violence.

Johnson also called on parents and teachers as a resource for preventing bullying in schools, especially the increasingly prevalent cyber bullying. “Schools alone cannot ensure students’ safety,” Johnson said. “Teachers and other school staff members work hard to ensure safe environments, but they need our help. Students, parents, caregivers, and community and faith organizations all have a role to play.”

Several other speakers in attendance spoke in support of Johnson’s message, including Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison and others. The North Carolina Association of School Administrators (NCASA) was represented by Executive Director Katherine Joyce during the event. NCASA joined several other organizations in signing onto a school safety message the State Superintendent wants all parents to receive. Batches of the parent notification will be delivered to each central office soon for distribution to all principals, who are then asked to send the information home with students
Elizabeth Yelverton