The New Jersey School Security Taskforce issued its final report July 9, making 42 recommendations. Some of the recommendations would require changes to existing state laws and regulations; other recommendations could be implemented administratively at the state or local levels
- Establishing a School Safety Specialist Academy;
- Improving response times to emergencies;
- Improving school-based emergency communications capabilities;
- With financial and staffing considerations, deploying trained school resource officers in each school building; and
- Requiring identification cards for staff and students to be displayed in school.
The report also traces New Jersey’s history of developing and implementing a series of initiatives, beginning in 1988, to deter threats to school safety and develop programs designed to prevent behavior associated with school violence.
The Taskforce was statutorily created back in August of 2013, but appointments were not made to the body until 2014. It was established by the Legislature to “study and develop recommendations to improve school security and safety, and to ensure a safe learning environment for students and school employees.” The act called on the Task Force to investigate a number of specific issues, such as the architectural design of schools, staff training, screening systems and resource officers.
The body included representatives of the State Department of Education, Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, and the Schools Development Authority, as well as several members from education stakeholder groups, including an NJPSA member – Aaron Eeyler. Commissioner of Education David C. Hespe co-chaired the 11-member task force with Christopher Rodriguez, Director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.
Besides meeting regularly as a full committee and in separate subcommittees, the Task Force visited schools and law enforcement agencies in New Jersey and Connecticut, reviewed work previously accomplished by similar groups in New Jersey and in other states, and met with and listened to experts in the field and members of the general public.
NJPSA provided written comment to the New Jersey Task Force on School Security in January of this year.