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WHEREAS, in recent decades, the country has experienced a disturbing growth in the number of violent acts on school campuses;
WHEREAS, school-based violence has a tremendous and detrimental effect on the school in which it occurred, the surrounding community, and the nation as a whole;
WHEREAS, in recent years, the Commonwealth has addressed the issue of school safety in numerous ways, including enacting laws addressing bullying in schools, requiring schools to adopt medical emergency response plans, and convening working groups of representatives from education agencies and health and human services agencies to discuss and advance other school safety improvements;
WHEREAS, in spite of these new laws and working groups, school safety remains a locally-driven issue, and there remains a clear divide between larger school districts that receive federal safety funding and smaller school districts that need to fund these types of investments on their own, without additional federal support;
WHEREAS, additional coordination at the executive level will ensure that the Commonwealth remains at the nation’s forefront in education and would continue that tradition in the realm of school and student safety and security;
WHEREAS, the creation of joint task forces has proven to be an effective mechanism for addressing issues that affect multiple Secretariats;
WHEREAS, establishing a Cross-Secretariat Task Force would provide an opportunity for agency representatives to join together with external stakeholders to discuss and assist local school districts with creating school safety and security response plans;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Deval L. Patrick, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution, Part 2, c. 2, § 1, Art. 1, hereby order as follows:
Section 1. There is hereby established the Cross-Secretariat Task Force on School Safety and Security (the “Task Force”).
Section 2. The Task Force shall consist of not more than 25 members, including the co-chairs and ex officio members. The Task Force shall include the following members: the Secretary of Education, the Secretary of Public Safety and Security, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the President of the Senate or her designee, the Speaker of the House or his designee, the Senate and House co-chairs of the joint committee on public safety and homeland security, and the Senate and House co-chairs of the joint committee on education. Each member, other than the Co-Chairs and the ex officio members, shall be appointed by the Governor and shall serve at the Governor’s pleasure, without compensation, solely in an advisory capacity.
The following seven (7) state officials, or their designees, shall serve as ex officio members: the Assistant Secretary for Children, Youth and Families, the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, the Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police, the Director of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, the Executive Director of the Massachusetts School Building Authority, and a representative from the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association.
Up to six (6) additional qualifying members as the Governor deems appropriate from the education and public safety sectors including at least one member from the following groups: district school superintendents, school principals, school teachers, district-level school safety coordinators, high school student currently attending a public school in Massachusetts, and researchers with expertise on school and safety security. The Secretaries of Education, Public Safety and Security, and Health and Human Services shall co-chair the Task Force.
Section 3. The Task Force shall coordinate joint efforts to address issues relating to school and student safety and security in the Commonwealth, including efforts to create detailed, school safety and security response plans for local school districts.
In fulfilling its mission, the Task Force shall:
(a) Develop actionable recommendations for local schools to assist them in preparing and/or updating school safety plans;
(b) Develop proposed school site safety and security assessment protocols and procedures;
(c) Recommend specific school site safety improvements that individual schools could adopt;
(d) Draft school-based safety training and exercise program recommendations for school staff and administrators; and
(e) Develop a possible request of capital funds for infrastructure improvements and training of school personnel and students to respond to emergency incidents, possibly through a grant program.
Section 4. The Task Force shall meet at such times and places as determined by the Co-Chairs.
Section 5. In fulfilling its mission, the Task Force shall seek the assistance of researchers and consultants with expertise in the area of school and student safety and security. All agencies, departments and boards of the Commonwealth shall fully cooperate with the Task Force. The Task Force may call and rely upon the expertise and services of individuals and entities outside of its membership for research, advice, support or other functions necessary and appropriate to accomplish its mission.
Section 6. The Co-Chairs may direct the Task Force to form subcommittees to focus on particular issues facing school and student safety and security in the Commonwealth. The composition and nature of each committee shall be determined by the Co-Chairs.
Section 7. The Task Force shall report any findings or recommendations, including any recommendations for legislation or regulation(s), to the Governor at such periods as determined by the Co-Chairs.
Section 8. Nothing in this Executive Order shall be construed to require action inconsistent with any applicable state or federal law.
Section 9. This Executive Order shall continue in effect until amended, superseded or revoked by subsequent Executive Order.
Given at the Executive Chamber in Boston this 16th day of January in the year two thousand and fourteen and of the Independence of the United States, two hundred and thirty-eight.
DEVAL L. PATRICK
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
WILLIAM FRANCIS GALVIN
Secretary of the Commonwealth