Students, teachers, and law enforcement form school safety task force

SPRINGETTSBURY TOWNSHIP, YORK COUNTY, Pa. — Students, school administrators, and law enforcement are joining forces to make Pennsylvania schools safer.

The first meeting of the state’s School Safety Task Force was held in York County at the Central York School District headquarters.

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said “certainly post Parkland, we saw a lot of ideas being floated. The governor and I believe that it’s important we have this task force so we could actually do more listening and talking, and put together a comprehensive plan to address school safety across Pennsylvania.”

The Central York School District is all too familiar with the problems school threats can cause.

Friday was the start of a conversation among students, teachers, administrators, and law enforcement on how to make schools safer and more secure.

It wasn’t too long ago that all classes in the Central York School District came to a halt for three days in February, after a series of threats targeted schools while raising concerns about school safety.

Central York High School senior Madison Bernlohr said “it definitely did bring it to the forefront, all of the students perspectives, I guess. It made us think about it a lot more. Prior to those threats, we kind of just didn’t think about it much.”

Bernlohr is one of two Central York High School students are part of a task force that’s looking at ways to keep schools safe.

Central York High School senior Alec Leese said “to be a part of something like this, to hear what adults and others who are more involved in this situation than what I am, it gives you an opportunity to form a different opinion, to give opinions to help them do a better job at what they’re doing.”

The Pennsylvania School Safety Task Force brings together a variety of people who all have a stake in finding ways to make schools more secure.

“They said themselves that they would feel comfortable with an officer in the school, and at least one of them said that they’d be comfortable with metal detectors, but I didn’t, both from the teacher and the students didn’t see a lot of comfort with the actual teachers being armed,” DePasquale said.

Homeland Security Director Marcus Brown said “there is no price tag you’re going to put on our children’s safety, and the teacher’s safety, and the administration’s safety. So, obviously we’re going to take in everything that was learned over the next six sessions on this, and then we’re going to have to prioritize and determine what is going to be the best thing for the school system across the state.”

Whatever solutions the task force recommends in the end is to be determined, but some are happy just to be able to get the conversation started.

“I’m very grateful that I had the opportunity to be a part of this, because I am part of the action that will one day not only affect my siblings below me, and maybe even my children that come in the future,” Leese said.

Friday’s meeting was the first of six regional school safety task force meetings.

The next one will take place in a few weeks.