PTA and ED Team Up to Improve School Safety

Arne speaking with community members at town hall“This job of keeping our children safe, and teaching them well, is something we can only do together, with the help of friends and neighbors, the help of a community, and the help of a nation.”

— President Barack Obama, December 16, 2012

In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary school, President Obama has called for a collaborative effort to keep our children safe at home, at school, and in the community. The National PTA and U.S. Department of Education have joined together to support schools and communities as we work towards this goal.

To kick off this joint effort, National PTA President Betsy Landers recently joined Secretary Arne Duncan for a town hall meeting to discuss school safety at Loch Raven High School in Baltimore, Md. The event included an open conversation with students, parents, teachers, and community members about school safety in the community. Over 350 community members attended the town hall to voice concerns and share ideas on how we can work together to create a safer learning environment. Watch the video archive of the event here.

Conversations as important as this one must continue long after everyone leaves the town hall. Here are a few good resources that may be helpful to you as we work to improve school and community safety:

U.S. Department of Education –

The National PTA –

     Safety Tool Kit

  1. “Look-a-likes” – poison prevention (en Español)
  2. “Cycling skills clinic”  – bike safety (en Español)
  3. “Get low and go” – fire, burns and scalds prevention (en Español
  4. “Fire escape map” – fire, burns and scalds prevention (en Español)
  5. “Safety sleuths” – playground safety (en Español)
  6. “The ultimate playground” – playground safety contest (en Español)

Kelsey Donohue is a senior at Marist College (N.Y.), and an intern in ED’s Office of Communications and Outreach


  1. My children attend a California State Public school. Recently, towards the end of the school year, the school & district decided to implement a ‘Safe & Secure’ campus by not permitting anyone (including parents) on campus. According to the principal, this will eliminate anybody entering the campus, including, but not limited to, PARENTS. Parents are no longer able to walk their child(ren) (yes, including kinders) to their perspective classrooms. I know some of you are thinking, ‘Hey, that’s not a bad idea!’ Well, let me express my parental concerns: My youngest (3rd grader) just had a field trip, and there was only 1 teacher to supervise more than 300 students entering a single gate (no parents allowed to supervise their children to their classes or supervise their children until teachers arrived). Every morning there are more than 1,000 students entering 2 gates. One staff member at each gate. Again, parents are not permitted to walk past the school gates. In the event of an earthquake, fire or terrorist situation, how would 1 teacher accommodate, protect, and care for over 500 students? I was a very active volunteer and am the type of parent that MUST be included in my children’s education. Now I feel that right has been taken away from me unwillingly. My question is why are parents being punished from entering school grounds? The uproar regarding campus safety is NOT caused by parents. In fact, a majority of the crimes occurring on campus are caused by STUDENTS and TEACHERS. As a parent, I feel that parental control and rights are being taken away by the current public system. in addition, I feel further away from my children’s safety, than ever before! Furthermore, the terrorists who engage in terrorizing us (including our schools) should not be rewarded with family separation, community unity, and especially parental involvement with their students in public schools.

  2. I am grateful that there are many who are concerned enough about increasing school safety that partnerships are increasing or intensifying to take action to create needed change. I was recently on a conference call where John White with ED and others were discussing emergency management planning for schools and resources available to assist. I am encouraged by open dialogue through calls and town halls as the ones held with PTA and ED. Also enjoy the blog I wrote highlighting these events at

  3. I have given thought to school safety and these are my thoughts.
    Schools need the same protection as banks. police protection with guns.
    Schools already have campus intercom systems in place and bells that ring for school to start, classes to change, school to end and fire alarms.
    Offices need a button to press just like bank tellers do. one that immediately alerts the police and fire dept. this button should have its own unique bell alarm that lets the entire school know there is an intruder on campus. at the sound of this alarm, teachers would lock doors, cover windows and place students away from doors and windows.
    we have got to do a better job of protecting our children.

  4. The biggest issue is there is no one answer solution, and many things need to be considered when the security of our children are on the line. I have said that we can wait and be hopeful that someone will have an answer, but we are better staying one step ahead by having every school pro actively seek ways to protect their kids within their own means. Its unfortunate that school budgets are still on the decline.

  5. I have read as much of the Presidents current reform plan as is available to the public and while I am always prayerful I think it will fall short as so many other efforts have in the past. My main criticism of the of the plan is that the President (Whom I have only the utmost respect) and the U. S. Department of Education, Department of Justice, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security (i.e. the government) seem to have little understanding of what is actually happening in the schools of America and have not chosen to invite the current counseling/mental health professionals that work in the schools to the table for the discussion. The fact is that with the cuts in educational funding, the recent changes in the Individuals with Disabilities Educational Act and state competitions for the Race to the Top Fund many school systems are being required to choose between and hiring teachers or School Psychologist/School Counselors.

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