Volunteer School Safety Advisory Committee Presents Recommendations to Iowa City School Board
The volunteer committee working on finding ways to improve safety at Iowa City schools recommends adding a police presence to secondary schools and increasing resources for mental health services.
- By Jessica Davis
- April 24, 2019
The School Safety Advisory Committee, a volunteer committee working on finding ways to improve safety at Iowa City schools, will present the Iowa City school board with its recommendations this week.
Iowa City school officials called for committee members following the Parkland, Fla., shooting on Feb. 14, 2018. However, the committee was not solely tasked with preventing and responding violence on campuses. The committee is comprised of 15 people, including parents, principals, students, law enforcement representatives and a teacher.
The committee’s four primary recommendations for Iowa City schools are as follows:
- Partner with local law enforcement departments to provide school resource officers, or SROs, in all middle schools and high schools.
- Consider implementing a universal mental health screening for students, and continue current community-school partnerships with mental health service providers and school-based mental health services providers
- Establish a "threat-assessment team" of school staff and community members. The group would provide consultation to the district when safety concerns are reported.
- Develop a plan for teaching social-emotional skills, such as communication, conflict resolution and self-regulation techniques.
The group also listed four secondary recommendations: enlisting student leaders to help identify areas of concern, bolstering the “Say Something” campaign on campuses, completing annual risk assessments at each district building and increasing bullying intervention training.
Iowa City Community School District does not currently employ school resource officers on its campuses. If the district hires school resource officers, officials will need to clarify the role of these officers.
"We do not want the SRO involved in disciplinary matters," read committee minutes. "We do not want an increase of referrals to law enforcement because of the availability of law enforcement."
According to committee notes, members hoped SROs could develop positive relationships between students and local law enforcement.
Meanwhile, the recommendation to establish a system for identifying students in need of mental health services appears to have come from a pilot program currently in development. According to committee meeting minutes, the district will soon test out a screening tool. Officials said it will be vital to ensure staff are available to help students who are flagged as in need of resources.