K-12 Education Legislative Update - Friday, March 23, 2018

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K12 Education Legislation Update

Vision Statement:  Every public school student, through access to needed resources and rigor, will graduate ready for post-secondary education and work, prepared to be a globally engaged and productive citizen.


Mission Statement: The State Board of Education will use its constitutional authority to lead and uphold the system of public education in North Carolina that guarantees every student in this state an opportunity to receive a sound basic education.

March 23, 2018

The Week In Review and Looking Forward into Next Week


School safety was the main education focus of the General Assembly this week. The Select Committee on School Safety convened all day on Wednesday, March 21 to learn about the current school safety initiatives and to thoughtfully consider immediate and long-term solutions to further protect our North Carolina schools.


Next week, the Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee (PED) will meet on Monday, March 26. The PED draft agenda includes local education funding and options for increasing Lottery proceeds for education. The Joint Legislative Study Committee on the Division of Local School Administrative Units will hold its third meeting on Wednesday, March 28, to review what information is available and the research being developed across the nation pertaining to the impact of school system size on student achievement. The Committee on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities will also meet on Wednesday, March 28. 



School Safety

Select Committee on School Safety


Five weeks after the tragic fatal shooting at a Florida high school, North Carolina lawmakers gathered Wednesday for the first convening of the Select Committee on School Safety.  Their initial focus was to review existing resources available and safety-related measures already under way in our public education system.  They will use this information as a baseline to possibly begin devising legislation and appropriations that can help to improve security at schools across the state.


House Speaker Tim Moore appointed the House Select Committee on School Safety only days after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. On Wednesday, he told committee members their task is a difficult but vital one.  "Threats to our schools are an appalling reality that we have to confront," Moore said. "You in this committee are being tasked with making decisions on behalf of the children who might feel scared to go to school. Students are asking their loved ones if they're safe if their classrooms are a place that they can learn and be free of fear. We owe it to our students in North Carolina to make schools a space where students and educators can excel and not have to worry about other matters."

State Superintendent Mark Johnson also addressed the committee before formal presentations began. “We owe it to every student to have the opportunity to go to school, work hard and succeed,” said Superintendent Johnson. “Part of that is also making sure that when they go to school, they go to a safe, welcoming environment.”  Local and state law enforcement and government officials spent much of the morning updating lawmakers on efforts already in place to make schools safer, such as panic buttons in school offices, law enforcement having access to school floor plans, and implementation of a school safety system that enables students to send anonymous tips about school safety concerns from an app they download on their mobile devices.

"Keeping schools safe is not a one-size-fits-all proposition," said Kym Martin, executive director of the North Carolina Center for Safer Schools, which was created in the wake of the December 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. "There's not one single measure you can put into place that will magically transform a school into the sanctuary for learning that our students deserve."

Elliott Smith, acting special agent in charge of the State Bureau of Investigation, said a gun safety group has reported that a school shooting has occurred on average once a week, across the U.S. in the past five years. On Tuesday, a high school student in Maryland allegedly shot two of his classmates before exchanging gunfire with a school resource officer that ultimately resulted in a fatal shooting of the gunman. Bomb threats Tuesday locked down some schools in Wake Forest and also led to an evacuation at Halifax Community College.

Jim Deni, a psychology professor at Appalachian State University and president of the North Carolina School Psychologists Association, told lawmakers they need to provide more mental health support, noting that about 20 percent of people have mental health problems and that school counselors and psychologists are overwhelmed. "We have to have a balanced approach between psychological safety and physical safety," Deni said.

Legislators heard from students such as Riley Barnes, Clayton High School's junior class president, who asked for more support for the SPK UP NC app, which has been piloted in some NC school districts. The app allows students to anonymously report school safety concerns. Barnes told lawmakers "to take the necessary measures to ensure the safety that my peers and I are entitled to.  It is an undeniable fundamental right that precautions are taken to ensure that I do not go through my school days in fear," Barnes said. "My high school career should be spent worrying about the SAT, college applications and what prom dress color I want and juggling my AP classes."


The committee ended the meeting by compiling a list of ideas it should study further, including allowing armed security guards who aren't police officers at schools, reviewing the mental health system and a statewide rollout of an anonymous student tip line app.  The next committee meeting has not yet been scheduled; however, future meetings will be reflected on this General Assembly web page.  A link to the committee website and materials from this week’s presentations can be found here.

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See this link for a complete list of bills impacting K-12 education.

Legislative Calendar

Monday, March 26, 2018

10:00 a.m.: Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee                           544 LOB | Audio  


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

  9:00 a.m.: Jt. Leg. Study Cmte on the Division of Local School Admin Units                  544 LOB | Audio 

12:00 p.m.: Committee on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities                             544 LOB | Audio 

North Carolina General Assembly 



    • Cecilia Holden  –  Director of Legislative Affairs and Special Initiatives  |  919-807-3406
    • Anne Murtha  –  Legislative Specialist  |  919-807-3403
    • David Smith –  Legislative Intern  |  919-807-3407

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