The Trump administration on Feb. 10 unveiled the launch of a new website that it says parents, students, educators, and law enforcement can use as a “one-stop shop” to address threats to school safety across the United States.
The website was launched Feb. 10 by the Department of Education, Health, and Human Services; Department of Homeland Security; and Department of Justice and aims to provide resources to address various threats related to safety, security, and support in schools, the Justice Department said in a news release.
“All students deserve a safe learning environment, and the Federal School Safety Clearinghouse is an essential resource for information and best practices,” Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, chair of the Federal Commission on School Safety, said in a statement.
The website “equips decision makers with resources for developing, customizing, and implementing actionable school safety plans,” she said.
Among the resources available on the School Safety Clearinghouse is an assessment titled the “School Safety Readiness Tool,” which allows users to evaluate the safety of their school across 10 “foundational elements of school safety.”
It also provides a wide range of information, including on mental health services in schools, threat assessments, emergency planning, and physical security. It also provides expertise on exercises designed to help schools and local law enforcement prepare for incidents.
“School safety is the number one priority of parents across the country, which is why the president directed DHS and other federal agencies to form a task force and provide schools, teachers, parents, and law enforcement with resources to identify, prepare for, respond to, and mitigate threats,” said Chad Wolf, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, in a statement.
“With these resources, schools and law enforcement will be better equipped to handle a crisis.”
The website’s launch this week coincided with the approaching second anniversary of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead.
President Trump met with several families of the Parkland shooting victims in the Oval House on Feb. 10 to discuss safety, briefing the group Stand with Parkland on the newly launched website.
Stand with Parkland, which backed the creation of such a tool to assist schools, has also urged Congress to pass universal background checks on gun purchases, something Trump briefly embraced before backing away from it earlier in his presidency.
Max Schachter, the father of student Alex Schachter, who was among the 17 killed in the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting, praised the clearinghouse as a “huge step forward,” the Sun Sentinel reported.
“It’s the most significant action government has taken to educate schools … to prevent acts of targeted violence,” Schachter said. “I want every principal to go on this website. You can have the key to everlasting life, but if nobody knows about it, it doesn’t do any good.”
Schachter, who set up an advocacy organization, the Safe Schools for Alex Foundation, has also pushed for government and law enforcement to improve security measures in schools by installing bulletproof doors and ballistic-resistant glass.
Others, however, such as Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was killed in the shooting, said that while the clearinghouse is a “good step,” it doesn’t address the issue of gun violence.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.