Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox announced on Thursday the formation of the “House Select Committee on School Safety” to review state and local policy on school safety and make recommendations for consideration by the General Assembly during the 2019 Session. Delegate Peace was appointed by Speaker Cox to serve on the Select Committee.
“Ensuring our children are safe while attending school should be our number one priority in the Virginia House of Delegates,” said Delegate Christopher K. Peace (R-Hanover) “I applaud Speaker Cox for the formation of this Select Committee, and I look forward to working with the other members to propose meaningful solutions.”
This is the first select committee formed in the House in 155 years. Select Committees are reserved for matters of considerable significance that cross the jurisdiction of conventional and established standing committees. Speaker Cox sent a letter to the Clerk of the House of Delegates on Thursday outlining the scope, membership and workplan of the Committee.
"The House of Delegates led the effort in recent years to make our schools safer, but the tragedy in Parkland, Florida shows us that we must be ever-vigilant when it comes to school safety. We are taking a bold and significant step today to make school safety a top priority of the House of Delegates,” said Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights). “Delegate Peace will bring a unique perspective to the Select Committee, and I look forward to the ideas he will contribute to the important work ahead of the committee.”
In his letter to the Clerk, Cox specifically limited the committee’s scope of work to strengthening emergency preparedness, hardening school security infrastructure, implementing security best practices, deploying additional security personnel, providing additional behavioral health resources for students, and developing prevention protocols at primary and secondary institutions across the Commonwealth. The committee will not discuss issues related to guns or broader behavioral health policy that are being considered by other commissions or standing committees. The committee also will not consider security at institutions of higher education, many of which already have rigorous security requirements and are governed by national accrediting agencies that set guidelines for their security.
Peace continued, “I have heard from many families across our district about their concerns. Children and teachers deserve to learn in an environment free from fear for their safety. As the Chairman of the House Budget Committee on Elementary & Secondary Education, I am dedicated to finding the state share of necessary resources to support our school divisions in our shared important goal for improved safety on school campuses everywhere. I am honored that the Speaker thought well enough of me for this important Committee, and I look forward to the work ahead. The House of Delegates has led the effort in recent years to invest in school safety, providing over $30 million in funding to hire school resource officers and invest in security infrastructure, as well as passing legislation to allow local schools to hire retired law enforcement to protect our children.”
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