NAESP has teamed with other national education organizations, including NASSP and NEA, to propose these legislative recommendations to Congress, adding to comments submitted to the Vice President's National Gun Violence Task Force (see below). This is NAESP's first position on gun-related policies.
As the country continues to mourn last month’s tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, NAESP is taking a stand to prevent school violence.
On Wednesday, January 9, NAESP Executive Director Gail Connelly met with Vice President Joe Biden and the National Gun Violence Task Force. Shortly after the Sandy Hook shooting occurred, President Obama appointed Vice President Biden to oversee the task force, which is seeking policy recommendations related to gun violence prevention. NAESP and NASSP, representing the nation’s pre-K̶12 principals, submitted comments to this task force for consideration. The task force is expected to release policy recommendations later this month.
Recognizing principals’ vital role in maintaining school safety and connecting families with supportive services, NAESP and NASSP offered the following recommendations to the task force:
- Create a federal inter-agency coordinating council led by select agencies, including the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Justice and Homeland Security.
- Dedicate a nationwide public education and awareness campaign about the mental health needs of youth and adults, which are often shortchanged or neglected.
- Remove barriers between education and local health service agencies, and encourage local communities to focus on schools as the “hub” for service delivery.
- Create clear policies to support principals to build partnerships with community mental health service providers and local law enforcement.
- Bolster federal programs to prevent bullying and harassment in our nation’s schools, which can have a dramatic impact in improving school safety and, correspondingly, achievement for all students.
- Give states and local communities the ability to combine federal and state funding streams that flow from separate agencies where mental health and school safety can be addressed, and encourage community-based mental health organizations to work in cooperation with local law enforcement, schools, and other key community stakeholders to create a system of community-based mental health response and threat assessment.
Further, the letter reiterated NAESP and NASSP’s positions opposing measures allowing teachers and principals to carry firearms in schools. Research has shown that the presence of armed school personnel, increased numbers of school resource officers, as well as the purchase of other visible school security equipment will not necessarily deter the kind of violence that took place at Sandy Hook.
Read the full letter here.