September 20, 2018

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A variety of stakeholders, including educators, administrators and district representatives attended a two-day, multi-disciplinary workshop to discuss school safety challenges and highlights. The West Virginia School Safety Planning Workshop was facilitated by the National Governors Association and the National School Safety Alliance in partnership with the West Virginia Department of Education and the office of West Virginia Homeland Security.

“These multi-agency workshops are integral to truly addressing the challenges that schools face in the modern world,” Paine said. “It is important that stakeholders come together to make real progress in improving school safety and cultivating healthy students who are ready to learn. School safety must not only focus on security at our facilities, but supporting the social and emotional wellbeing of each and every student.”

 During the workshop, participants discussed many aspects of school safety, including mental health and how to strengthen planning, coordination and collaboration across agencies. Stakeholders were also given an overview of current initiatives to improve school safety while identifying the unique challenges that are facing today’s students, educators and administrators.

 “School safety is a priority for governors across the nation and states are taking the lead on developing proactive solutions to address this complex issue,” said Jeff McLeod, Division Director, Homeland Security & Public Safety Division at the National Governors Association. “NGA is grateful for the opportunity to support West Virginia’s school safety efforts and encourages states to bring together stakeholders across disciplines to discuss ways to strengthen planning, coordination and collaboration.”

 The facilitators hope that workshops like this one will help to identify best practices that can guide schools throughout the state. Moving forward, leadership within the West Virginia Department of Education plans to grow the workshops into a statewide safety conference.

This workshop is the latest in a multifaceted effort by Superintendent Paine to dive deeper into school safety issues. In May of this year, Paine assembled 17 students from across the state to participate in the first Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council on Safe Schools. The Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council was established to provide a voice for the students of West Virginia public schools by representing and presenting the interests of the students to administrative and policy-making bodies. Insights from the meeting have been used to inform education leaders and policy-making bodies.