SEVERE WX : Heat Advisory View Alerts

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 8:23 AM
Updated: Mar 17, 2018 8:23 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.

Huntsville
Few Clouds
86° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 91°
Florence
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 92°
Fayetteville
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 84°
Decatur
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 87°
Scottsboro
Broken Clouds
73° wxIcon
Hi: 95° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 73°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 94827

Reported Deaths: 1674
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson12969243
Mobile9836206
Montgomery6609148
Madison531433
Tuscaloosa419073
Unassigned356061
Baldwin350224
Shelby326035
Marshall313035
Lee266045
Morgan236918
Etowah210431
DeKalb179813
Calhoun176113
Elmore171538
Walker152064
Houston138612
Russell13582
St. Clair132817
Dallas131823
Limestone131813
Franklin127020
Cullman122012
Colbert117113
Lauderdale115717
Autauga108621
Escambia107516
Talladega100913
Jackson9684
Tallapoosa85479
Chambers84038
Dale82723
Blount7884
Chilton7886
Butler75836
Coffee7566
Covington73420
Pike7037
Clarke6629
Barbour5735
Lowndes57124
Marion57024
Marengo55315
Hale47326
Bullock46311
Winston45011
Perry4404
Bibb4265
Wilcox42610
Monroe4194
Randolph39610
Pickens3929
Conecuh38810
Washington38612
Sumter36018
Lawrence3481
Macon33414
Crenshaw3143
Choctaw28112
Cherokee2707
Henry2593
Geneva2570
Clay2525
Greene25011
Lamar2202
Fayette2045
Cleburne1261
Coosa1012
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 120585

Reported Deaths: 1215
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby22916301
Davidson20383213
Rutherford646354
Hamilton606253
Knox451338
Williamson347825
Sumner340473
Unassigned312810
Out of TN286014
Wilson226223
Bradley190312
Montgomery190213
Sevier18507
Putnam174018
Trousdale15826
Robertson153519
Hamblen138314
Blount127711
Maury12257
Washington12252
Tipton11959
Madison106417
Sullivan96214
Bedford91811
Hardeman89817
Macon85813
Lake7820
Loudon7253
Bledsoe6951
Gibson6935
Fayette6868
Dickson6792
Anderson6766
Dyer6287
Cheatham5787
Henderson5632
Jefferson5593
Lawrence5506
Obion5464
McMinn53120
Rhea5282
Coffee5223
Carter5126
Warren5074
Lauderdale4898
Greene4678
Haywood4636
Hardin4628
Roane4612
Cocke4572
Hawkins4517
Cumberland4506
Smith4454
Weakley4214
Monroe4189
Giles37813
McNairy3715
DeKalb3492
Franklin3254
Carroll2963
Marshall2903
White2815
Lincoln2801
Henry2760
Claiborne2660
Crockett2664
Johnson2650
Hickman2590
Campbell2471
Wayne2252
Marion2224
Chester2172
Polk2043
Decatur1983
Grainger1960
Overton1801
Unicoi1610
Union1540
Benton1481
Cannon1430
Jackson1241
Humphreys1203
Morgan1181
Scott1180
Grundy1132
Sequatchie1050
Meigs1040
Fentress920
Perry790
Hancock782
Clay750
Stewart740
Lewis731
Moore610
Houston570
Van Buren360
Pickett311

Community Events