Arizona School Safety Task Force releases final report and model school safety plan - AZEdNews
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Arizona School Safety Task Force releases final report and model school safety plan

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  • Morgan Dick   |   Office of the Superintendent Kathy Hoffman

A Peoria Unified Student Returns To In-person Classes On Monday, Sept. 21, 2020. Photo Courtesy Peoria Unified School District.

After over one year of work, the School Safety Task Force, as convened by the Arizona Department of Education, is proud today to release their final report and model school safety plan.

Despite the efforts of students involved with the Arizona chapter of March for Our Lives to pass House Bill 2597 in the 2019 legislature, the bill failed to pass. However, lack of legislative action did not end the students’ vision for school safety.

Instead, Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman partnered with March for Our Lives to create the first-ever statewide School Safety Task Force; a multi-disciplinary group convened to reframe school safety as a multi-pronged approach to safety, health and violence.

“As an educator, I’ve consistently seen the value and importance of listening to our students and bringing their voices into decision making,” said Superintendent Hoffman. “I encourage all to read this report than reflect on the ways that student voices can be elevated into your conversations about school climate and safety, so that all students can feel a sense of safety and belonging on our campuses.”

“By creating this School Safety manual, it is our hope that all school districts in Arizona will have more direction and equal access to resources that will equate to an emotionally safe campus for all students,” said Julie Kent-Partridge, MSW, CSSW at Washington Elementary School District, “Our students are the future leaders of America and keeping them emotionally safe while they are in public education so they can access academics was the ultimate goal of this task force. Our team worked hard and was amazing – I feel blessed to be part of this experience!”

One major goal of the School Safety Task Force was to create an outline of recommended legislative changes. The following ideas should be considered by lawmakers in the 2021 legislative session:

  • Provide sustainable funding for the ADE to provide ongoing training on the determinants of the model school safety plan.
  • Repeal legislation prohibiting statewide collection of school disciplinary data.
  • Provide sustainable funding for the ADE for a full-time position to establish a vetting process for resources and to create and keep current a clearinghouse of resources on its website.
  • Provide sustainable funding to create and implement a statewide tip line for public and charter schools.

Additionally, students made recommendations to both lawmakers and school leaders, including:

  • Providing funds for mental health programs and positions, like mental health counselors and social workers
  • School leaders and educators should come from and reflect the school community
  • Implement restorative justice programs and centers in schools
  • Implement culturally sensitive and anti-racist curriculum
  • Consider alternatives to negative reinforcement systems (i.e. detention and suspension)

“We are very excited and grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the Department of Education and Superintendent Hoffman over the last year,” said Maya Zuckerberg, Political Co-Director of March for Our Lives Arizona. “The work and research done on this committee will undoubtedly prove to help keep our students and school communities safe, and ensure that as a state, we really are putting student’s wellbeing first.”

Since launching the School Safety Task Force, our communities have gone through so much, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide protests for racial justice. These two events influenced the work of the Task Force because of their transformative effect on our students and schools. Read the Final Report and Model School Safety Plan here:

Members of the School Safety Task Force:

Courtney AcostaArizona Department of Education
Isaac AkapnitisArizona Department of Education
Joshua AshtonMarch for Our Lives AZ
Rebecca AstorgaArizona Department of Education
Dr. Kris BosworthCollege of Education, University of Arizona
John CarruthVail Unified School District
Andrew ChavezCarl Hayden High School
Emma ChavezArizona Department of Education
Arcy CornidezNational Alliance on Mental Illness/Southern AZ Chapter
Officer Stephen DieuChandler Police Department and Mesa Public Schools
Kell Donley WilliamsAHCCCS State Suicide Prevention Specialist
Jordan HarbMarch for Our Lives AZ
Tammy HilleTucson Unified School District
Dr. Sarah Lindstrom JohnsonSanford School of Social and Family Dynamics, Arizona State University
Julie Kent-PartridgeWashington Elementary School District
Chris KottermanArizona School Boards Association
Callie KozlakArizona Department of Education
Carol LandauerMental Health Coalition of Verde Valley
Jim LeeArizona Department of Education
Stephen LeonardWashington High School/Glendale Union High School District
Yesmina LuchsingerArizona Department of Education
Yasmin LynchArizona Department of Education
Jacob MartinezMarch for Our Lives AZ
David Martinez IIIVitalyst Health Foundation
Linda MasonArizona Department of Education
Erica MaxwellArizona Department of Education
Sophia MayberryArizona Department of Education
Linda McCollumPima County Attorney’s Office
Richard MooreAcademy of Tucson High School
Celeste NamethArizona Department of Education
Jose PatinoAliento AZ
Larry RossHOPE College and Career Readiness Academy
Emma RowlandMarch for Our Lives AZ
Keri SchoeffArizona Department of Education
Chief Steve StahlCity of Maricopa
Dr. Jessica J. SummersCollege of Education, University of Arizona
Reid SwanFlagstaff Unified School District
Yating TangArizona Department of Education
Skyler Tuholsky-FrokeGay and Lesbian Student Education Network AZ
Jeanette VelasquezPima County Superintendent’s Office
Jenny Walker, PhDArizona Department of Education
Janelle WoodBlack Mothers Forum, Inc.
Maya ZuckerbergMarch for Our Lives AZ