For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Bob Cooper
(208) 334-4112

Date: September 6, 2007

Wasden Joins in National School and Campus Safety Report

(Boise) - A report issued today by a National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) task force is a good starting point for discussion with policy makers to address school safety issues in Idaho, Attorney General Wasden said.

The report, prepared by the NAAG Task Force on School and Campus Safety, identifies potential deficiencies in federal and state laws as well as educational policies that may leave students vulnerable to violence in their schools and on college campuses.

The 14-page report includes recommendations addressing threat assessment, protocols for dealing with the mentally ill, information sharing among law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders, and crisis response planning and communications.

“The goal of this report is to stimulate dialogue among policy makers, educational administrators, law enforcement professionals and others as they examine school and campus safety issues,” Attorney General Wasden said. “The report and recommendations were prepared with a national perspective in mind and are not intended as ‘one-size-fits-all’ solutions. The report provides a valid starting point for discussions with and among Idaho policy makers with regard to the applicability of the recommendations in our state.”

The Attorneys General consulted nationally recognized experts in the field of school and campus security and compiled a brief report focusing on key issues highlighted by the Virginia Tech murders and incidents of violence in schools.

Recommendations from the Task Force include:

  • All schools and colleges should establish a system whereby disturbing behavior is reported to an individual or multidisciplinary team of individuals with expertise and training in risk assessment who can assess the information received and put into action an appropriate response. Students, parents, faculty and other community stakeholders should be made aware of the reporting mechanism.
  • State and federal lawmakers should examine privacy laws in an effort to remove barriers to effective information sharing. Appropriate state and federal agencies should clarify how information, including mental health records, can be shared under existing state and federal laws.
  • States should modify or enhance state laws to ensure that all information that is relevant to federal firearms laws is shared with the National Instant Criminal Background System, especially for individuals disqualified from purchasing or possessing firearms for mental health reasons. The U.S. Department of Justice should provide clear guidance to jurisdictions on the scope of relevant records.
  • State legislators should mandate that all schools and colleges that receive state funding create, maintain and update emergency management plans.
  • Colleges should implement a multi-point, redundant communication system that leverages existing technology and provides information to as many people as possible as quickly as possible.
  • Every school and college should have mechanisms in place to allow for the anonymous reporting of perceived threats by students or faculty. The system should include educational outreach and effective follow-up by trained professionals.
  • States should continue to implement and expand bullying prevention measures, including cyber bullying.

The report is available on Attorney General Wasden’s website.  To read the full report click here.

Wasden, who is president of NAAG and a member of the task force, offered his thanks and appreciation to the task force co-chairs, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers and Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch. Former NAAG President, Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker, convened the task force to update a 1999 NAAG report addressing issues surrounding school violence. Although much of the information in the 1999 report remains relevant, Attorney General Baker created the ad hoc group to update recommendations and determine what issues have been brought into sharper focus as a result of the tragedy at Virginia Tech.

Task Force members are the Attorneys General of Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, District of Columbia, Georgia, Guam, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

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