Governor's Office news release
– Building on the work of the Governor's Task force on School and Campus Safety, Governor Bob McDonnell today introduced eight pieces of legislation designed to make Virginia's schools and campuses safer. Highlights of the agenda include legislation to develop a critical incident response model curriculum; to require School Boards to establish threat assessments teams and improve communication between school administrators, behavioral health professionals and law enforcement officials; to establish a fund to assist local school systems with security upgrades; and, to create a new criminal offense for entering a school while armed or in possession of an explosive device with the intent to commit a violent felony.
"It is so important that we are doing everything in our power to provide a safe learning environment in our schools and on our campuses," Governor McDonnell said. "We have no greater obligation than protecting our children and those who are engaged in the important role of educating our children and young people."
"The proposals I'm making to the General Assembly will make schools and campuses in the Commonwealth safer. They will also provide the resources necessary to assist our first responders, educators and mental health professionals in protecting our schools. I am thankful for the work that the dedicated group of leaders and experts on the School and Campus Safety Task force has done on the important issue of keeping our schools safe."
On Monday, December 20, Governor McDonnell issued Executive Order 56 establishing a multidisciplinary task force to review school and campus safety in light of the horrific and senseless murders that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. He has also established a separate mental health workgroup chaired by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. Bill Hazel. The Task force provided preliminary recommendations last week on how to make the schools and campuses in the Commonwealth safer. This legislation complements budget items, including recommendations from the Mental Health and Education Workgroups, to provide additional funding for school safety.
Key elements of the Governor's 2013 School Safety agenda include:
The House of Delegates has already passed legislation (HB 1871 – McClellan) that defines "bullying" in the Code of Virginia, a recommendation of the Task force.