The Chesterfield County School Board is creating a School Safety Task Force to evaluate current protocols and best practices that ensure the school division is providing a safe, supportive and nurturing learning environment for all students, staff and administrators. Prior to the recent tragedy in Florida, two Chesterfield School Board members, Midlothian representative Dr. Javaid Siddiqi, former Virginia Secretary of Education, and Clover Hill representative Dianne Smith, a gubernatorial appointee in 2013 to the governor’s School Safety Task Force, were actively looking into the creation of a task force.
“The task force will discuss current practices and look at new ways to continue to improve the safety and security of our schools throughout Chesterfield County,” said Chesterfield County School Board Chair John Erbach.
This task force will examine critical issues surrounding education and safety, with four main topics established:
“Our school buildings should be a place where our community feels safe sending their children, and we believe this task force will explore more ways to not only provide safe schools, but also to provide the student supports needed to be proactive in helping our students,” said Siddiqi.
Some of the topics the task force will review include: critical incident and emergency management planning, individual school prevention efforts, mental health support services, bullying prevention, threat assessment protocols, suicide awareness and prevention efforts, drugs in school and the opioid crisis, Chesterfield County Public Schools Student Code of Conduct, student disciplinary actions and discipline disparities, alternative approaches for student discipline, school resource officers and communications between the school division and public safety officials.
“We are honored to have Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran and former Virginia Secretary of Education Laura Fornash leading the charge on this task force as co-chairs,” said Smith. “Their knowledge and leadership are invaluable assets that will guide the work of this committee.”
“School safety is a top priority in Virginia and across the country,” Secretary Moran said. “I am honored to be part of this task force. As a resident of Chesterfield County and a parent of Chesterfield County Public Schools students, I look forward to working with this community to review current protocols in place and consider additional best practices to keep students and staff as safe as possible.”
“I am looking forward to serving on this task force as we bring school officials, parents, students, teachers and members of the community together to look at additional ways to support students and ensure our schools are safe,” said Fornash, who is also a Chesterfield County resident and parent of a Chesterfield County Public Schools student.
The School Board is now accepting applications from community members to serve on the School Safety Task Force. Task force members will be appointed from each of the county’s five magisterial districts and will include parents, teachers, staff members, students and other community members. Those interested in serving should apply no later than March 9 by filling out an application at mychesterfieldschools.com/school-safety-task-force.