Governor Pat McCrory's Task Force on Safer Schools met this week to discuss mental health initiatives to improve school safety, a top priority set by the governor when he created the North Carolina Center for Safer Schools.
“School safety is a top priority of my administration and mental health is a key component,” said Governor McCrory. “The measures set forth by my task force will continue to strengthen our position as a national leader in school safety and give parents the peace of mind that their children are safe when they drop them off at school each day.”
In 2013, Governor McCrory established the Center for Safer Schools and the Governor’s Task Force on Safer Schools to help schools implement policies to improve safety. North Carolina was recently ranked 11th in the nation for school safety by Wallet Hub.
At this week's meeting, Chief Justice Mark Martin reported on the main recommendations from the Governor's Mental Health and Substance Use Task Force. The recommendations include increased mental health first aid training in schools, increased case management in schools, measures to prevent opioid and prescriptive drug abuse and overdose, and a pilot program to divert youth away from the criminal justice system into treatment.
Two members of the Task Force were installed into leadership positions. Sheriff Robert Holland, of Macon County, was named chair and eighth grade English teacher Caroline Daily, of Johnston County, was named vice chair.
Additionally, Greta Metcalf, chair of the Safer Schools Task Force Mental Health committee, reported on the development of a suicide prevention toolkit for schools which includes a rating scale for schools to use to assess the level of need when dealing with students with suicidal thoughts.
Over the next year, the Task Force will create a threat vulnerability tool for schools, develop a school bus safety curriculum and provide additional critical incident training for schools.
They will also continue pursuing student engagement with the anonymous tip reporting application, ‘SPK UP NC,’ for students to help report school safety concerns. Task force members said it is important to involve students in the sharing of information and concerns about their schools, as well in the planning of programs to address those concerns.
Earlier today, Governor McCrory highlighted $70 million in grants through the Governor's Crime Commission to address issues related to human trafficking, gangs, veterans rights and safer communities and schools.