The state’s top education official plans to push for more policy and funding to improve school safety.
State officials and lawmakers say Indiana has strong school safety programs in place, but Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick says there are still gaps.
All of Indiana’s public schools have safety specialists, plans, and required drills, monitored by the Indiana Department of Education, but for charter and non-public schools, there’s no state mandate for them to do the same. That means the department doesn’t know if, and to what extent, that’s happening in those schools.
“That’s the piece I struggle with morally, I think every child should be in an environment where all that has taken place,” McCormick says.
Aside from preparation in schools, McCormick says more talks about gun safety need to take place. During next year’s legislative budget session, the department also plans to push for more mental health resources in communities throughout the state because another major concern is varying levels of access for identifying and providing help to people with mental health problems.
But school safety overall, is a complicated issue, and McCormick says a big step to making impactful change is continuing the conversation.
“How do we educate others on what that complexity looks like and what’s it going to take to the next level. What we can’t do is plan and prepare and train and hold our breath and hope for the best. It’s just not good enough,” McCormick says.
McCormick says she expects talk around school safety measures will continue, in part, through summer study committees from the general assembly. Gov. Eric Holcomb also has plans to release some school safety plans in the final weeks of this year’s legislative session that could impact those committees.