In the wake of the mass shooting at a Florida high school this week, Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas discussed the safety challenges and needs facing Arizona schools. Douglas said her “heart goes out not only to the families who have lost their love ones,” and the people of the United States are “one family and the shooting hurts us all.”
Douglas made the comments in an interview on KFYI’s James T. Harris show.
Douglas told Harris that her office is a “big bully pulpit” from which to preach about a “three pronged approach” needed to “make sure our facilities are safe.” Douglas, who has long been an advocate for secure facilities, called for increased funding and training.
Douglas stated that schools can apply for grants through Proposition 301 but “it’s not adequate to help all of our schools and we need to partner either with police departments and law enforcement agencies to ensure that our kids are safe on these campuses. “Prop 301 is moving through the Legislature,” said Douglas, “to extend the 6/10 of a cent and hopefully maybe we can take a look at how some of that money is used and get more of that money into our school resource officer program.”
“I saw something recently that I thought was interesting,” said Douglas. “You know, if you go into any bank in America, you’ll find an armed guard to protect our money, yet in our children’s schools we don’t have anything to protect them. In too many schools we don’t have the protection they need.”
Douglas said the first prong to school safety rests with the Schools Facility Board. “They have been under-funded for so long. Our School Facility Board has got to be a top priority with our legislators; to make sure that we can get these facilities as safe as they can possibly be.”
Douglas said one of the biggest risks kids are facing are unsafe schools. “We need to make sure our facilities are adequate. Again I’m a big proponent of school resource officers and having a trained law enforcement person on each and every campus, because although we have emergency preparedness plans and training for our administrators, that’s not what they live and breathe every single day.” Douglas argued that you have to have someone who knows how to respond to an emergency and “know immediately what to do. How to get the best help. How to sort out the good players from the bad players. If kids aren’t safe in our schools no learning is going to happen.”