Governor Parson signs executive order on school safety

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JEFFERSON CITY – Governor Mike Parson signed an executive order Wednesday morning to create a statewide task force on school safety.

Parson signed the order at the center court of the gymnasium at Blair Oaks High School.

“It is important for me to make sure I do my part to give you the tools you need to be safe every day when you come to school,” Parson told students. “It is something most of us in Missouri take for granted, but you never know when things can get out of hand.”

Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe will lead the task force. Parson said the task force would evaluate the best practices for school safety and specific recommendations to Missouri schools and districts by the end of July.

“We are going to take a look at other states, see how they do things, what they are good at and try to adopt some of those things to the state of Missouri,” Parson said.

In addition to Kehoe, the task force will include of Department of Public Safety director Sandy Karsten, Department of Mental Health director Mark Stringer, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Margie Vandeven, Missouri School Board Association executive director Melissa Randol, senior policy advisor to the Center for Education Safety Paul Fennewald, and a local school resource officer.

Parson said the goal is for schools to have a plan in the event of an emergency.

“Anytime you see what’s happening around the county, as Governor you start thinking how am I prepared for this, how is Missouri prepared for this,” Parson said. “So many times, when these incidents occur everybody huddles up afterward and tries to figure out what could we have done differently, and hopefully we are in front of it.”

Department of Public Safety director Sandy Karsten said the task force would work together to create a plan to increase safety across Missouri schools.

“At the Department of Public Safety, we approach school safety as a series of risks that need to be mitigated,” Karson said. “This task force is going to assist in highlighting those risks.”

The task force will be looking into all aspects of school safety, from the root causes to potential solutions.

“School safety is about so much more than shootings,” Department of Mental Health director Mark Stringer said. “It is also about bullying, isolation, despair, suicide and tragic natural occurrences.

Parson has set a deadline of July 31 for the task force to submit its report.