State Chiefs to Convene Working Group on School Safety

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Washington, D.C. (February 22, 2018) –– The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) today announced it will establish a working group of state chiefs to study school safety and find the solutions that students deserve. 

In light of the recent tragedies in Parkland, Florida and Benton, Kentucky, and far too many mass shootings that have taken place at schools across this country in recent years, CCSSO’s Board of Directors and state chiefs across the country recognize they must come together and find solutions on behalf of our nation’s children. 

CCSSO Interim Executive Director Carissa Moffat Miller released the following statement: 

“We are heartbroken by the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and hold in our thoughts the students, staff, families and entire Parkland community impacted by this devastating shooting. 

As state education chiefs, we strive every day to create systems that ensure a high-quality, equitable education for every child. We ask a lot of our students and educators, to aim ever higher and achieve academic success. But students can’t reach their full potential if they’re afraid to step into school. 

Every child and educator deserves a safe, supportive environment where they can focus and thrive, and we won’t waiver from this fundamental compact with them. 

In light of the recent tragedies in Parkland, Florida and Benton, Kentucky, and far too many mass shootings that have taken place at schools across this country in recent years, we as state leaders recognize we must come together and find solutions for our children. 

This work will not be easy. We understand that school safety sits at the intersection of many complicated issues involving mental health, student privacy, resources and gun laws, but as state chiefs we welcome the difficult conversations that will move us forward in making schools safer for every child. 

We admit we don’t have all the answers right now. Instead, we soon will establish a working group to find the solutions that our young people deserve. We look forward to the day when every child knows they can walk into school and be safe, every teacher can focus on the important work of teaching their students, and no parent has to think twice about dropping their kid off at school in the morning. 

We know every student is watching us, and we are committed to living up to their expectations.” 

CCSSO Board Member and Kentucky Commissioner of Education Stephen Pruitt said, “Chiefs and state education agencies have a significant role to play in the support for schools and districts before, during and after a crisis such as those that have taken place in south Florida and here in Kentucky.

“We live in a time when we, as educators, can no longer just focus on the achievement of our students. I believe it is time for K-12 education to step up to the plate and seriously address the social and emotional well-being of our children. We must ensure there is proper training for staff and support for all students. Without that, we are destined to keep reliving the tragedy.”

CCSSO will announce more details soon on the working group and the next steps this group will take to identify the current challenges and find solutions.


The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions. CCSSO provides leadership, advocacy and technical assistance on major educational issues. The Council seeks member consensus on major educational issues and expresses their views to civic and professional organizations, federal agencies, Congress and the public.

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