School Protection Task Force Created In PA

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf wants input from teachers, parents and state officials on how to make public schools safer.

Wolf and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale announced the School Safety Task Force last week at Penn Wynne Elementary School in Montgomery County, flanked by state police and school administrators.

“Ensuring the safety of Pennsylvanians, especially our children, is my top priority as Governor,” Wolf said. “I am creating a school safety task force to ensure we are doing everything we can to make sure that our schools are a safe place for our children to learn. By working together and listening to those on the front lines, we can find solutions that will improve school safety, security, and preparedness.”

The task force will hold regional meetings throughout the spring. Members will review “active shooter” drill mandates, vet policy changes, discuss the impact of increased funding and measure the effectiveness of student support, including mental health services.

“The key here is we need to listen,” Wolf told WHYY. “We don’t want to say here’s what you ought to do. We need to listen to teachers, we need to listen to law enforcement officials, we need to listen to parents, we need to listen to the students. And that’s what this task force is about.”

Wolf assembled the task force a month after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida left 17 dead and 15 wounded. The massacre reignited debate around gun control and thrust student-turned-activists into the limelight.

“There’s simply no way after Parkland that gun safety isn’t going to be part of the discussion,” DePasquale said. “But we also want to make sure that’s not the only thing we’re talking about.”

Wolf appointed four vice chairs of the task force, including Charles Ramsey, chairman of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency and Philadelphia’s former police commissioner; Mark DiRocco, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators; Judy Morgitan, immediate past president of the Pennsylvania Association of School Nurses and Practitioners; and Bonita Allen, president of the Pennsylvania Parent Teacher Association.