Public Comments for: HB1129 - School safety audits; law-enforcement officers.
To Whom It May Concern, Thank you for the opportunity to comment on HB 1034. As a public high school school teacher and parent of two young children (ages 5 and 2) in Virginia, I have serious concerns that this bill will wind up doing more harm than good for the children of our state. I have worked in two different public school systems in Virginia over 13 years, and I have seen first hand how beneficial counseling services can be to a wide variety of students. If parents are allowed to prohibit their students from accessing counseling services in the school, these students may be cut off from not only critical mental health support, but but also the academic, career, and community support that school counselors and mental health team members provide. All members of a school mental health team must undergo rigorous education before obtaining their licenses, and as such they should be trusted as the professionals they are to provide only services that they deem necessary for students well-being. I strongly urge you to let the trained mental health professionals do their jobs. Don't make students get tied in the mire of adult squibbles. Thank you, Sara Watkins Mother Teacher Concerned Virginia Citizen
To Whom It May Concern, Thank you for the opportunity to comment on HB HB1032. As a public high school school teacher and parent of two young children (ages 5 and 2) in Virginia, I have serious concerns that this bill will wind up doing more harm than good for the children of our state. As VA Senator Peterson said on January 27 of this year, regarding a similar bill, "I don't think we should be involved in micromanaging school libraries...The problem is that you’re going to sweep up books that you don’t intend to sweep up" (Matthew Barakat, abcnews.go.com). I strongly urge you to leave the books in the libraries for the kids. They deserve to have the opportunity to decide with their own parents and personal support systems what books to read. Thank you, Sara Watkins Mother Teacher Concerned Virginia Citizen
Both I (a public school teacher) and the Virginia Education Association OPPOSE HB 1129. The proposed amendments give too much power to the Chief Law-Enforcement Officer. Why should one individual (who is not even employed by the school district) have final say over approving school safety audits?
Our youth - and those who have dedicated their lives toward our childrens' education, development, and enrichment - are treasures in any community. They deserve thoughtful, collaborative, and interdependent coordination of protective resources to mitigate any foreseen risks they may encounter within their learning environment. Unfortunately, these populations are particularly vulnerable – due to societal trends to remove protective services (specifically police) from these environments and the high concentration of students and faculty in designated locations during predictable times. A fundamental tenant of leadership involves ensuring those charged with making critical performance decisions are granted both the authority and the responsibility to address challenges within their purview. When law enforcement executives are left out of the decision-making processes for risk mitigation and yet are expected to perform flawlessly in the face of a sudden threat / mass-casualty incident, the interests of those most impacted – our students and facility – are subordinated to unproductive and often baseless rhetoric. I see this bill as a solid starting point to compel interdependent cooperation between schools and public safety. This legislation shouldn't represent the end goal, but this starting point is essential in some jurisdictions within the Commonwealth. As such, I support the measure and encourage additional language for the inclusion of fire / life-safety and emergency management leadership. Thank you for the opportunity to provide feedback and for your consideration of this perspective.