Trump administration releases school safety report, but demands of Parkland activists largely unaddressed
Bill Chizek/iStock(WASHINGTON) — The Trump administration’s School Safety Commission, created in the wake of the Parkland School shooting earlier this year, released its final report Tuesday that includes nearly 100 recommendations for addressing school violence.
But it does not address the key demands for gun control made by school shooting victims and students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, whose activism sparked protests nationwide this spring and summer.
In a controversial move, the Trump administration takes on an Obama-era initiative intended to combat racial disparities in school discipline.
The commission recommends the rescission of guidance issued in 2014 advising districts they could be found in violation of federal civil rights law if minority students were disciplined at higher rates than white students.
“One of the things that the commission was concerned with is the recurring narrative that teachers in the classroom or students in the hallways and on campus were afraid,” said an administration official on background call with reporters, who called the recommendation one of the “first” issues addressed in the report. “Because individuals who had a history of anti-social, or in some instances aggressive — trending toward violent behavior, were left unpunished or were left unchecked.”
One of President Donald Trump’s key proposals after the Parkland school shooting was arming teachers – but there was significant pushback from educators, parents and some lawmakers.
Instead, the report provides guidelines for schools who may wish to equip “highly trained school personnel” with firearms to protect students in the event of a shooting – including teachers, custodians and extracurricular staff.
Officials were insistent that there is no recommendation involving using federal funds to “arm teachers.”
And while President Trump had seemed receptive in the various panels following the Parkland massacre to the idea of raising the minimum age to buy firearms, the report largely dodges the issue and recommends states “consider offering training or other resources to promote safe storage of firearms.”
Additionally, according to the commission’s chair Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, the report endorses states adopting “extreme risk protection orders” designed to restrict access to guns for people “found to be a danger to themselves or others” – but without any call for the U.S. Congress to take on the issue.
“I don’t think this is a report that runs away from the problem of firearms in the hands of dangerous individuals but it also recognizes this is just one part of a multifaceted problem,” the official said.
According to DeVos, the report also includes recommendations for the news media in its coverage of school shootings that includes calling on journalists to not highlight the shooters.
The official noted that the report is just phase 2 of the administration’s work to combat school shootings, with the third phase now being their efforts to implementing the recommendations made Tuesday.
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