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Speaker Moore To Create House Committee On School Safety

A class of West Lumberton Elementary kindergartners meets in their temporary building at Lumberton Junior High. The school's enrollment is down from 150, pre-Matthew, to 90.
Lisa Philip
File photo of a West Lumberton Elementary classroom. North Carolina officials are responding to last week's shooting in Florida with new measures aimed at improving school safety.

North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore is expected to form a new House committee on school safety on Tuesday. That comes days after a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, left 17 people dead.Rob Thompson, a spokesman for the youth advocacy organization N.C. Child, is looking forward to learning more about what the committee will do.

"We hope the scope is broad,” Thompson said. “We hope that they're not just looking at security measures on campus, which are important, but that they're also looking at behavioral health issues, and what we can do to make sure troubled youth get the care they need.”

Thompson said North Carolina schools need more school nurses and psychologists. He also is calling for laws that make it harder for troubled youth to access guns.

“We feel strongly that part of the problem is that troubled youth are so easily able to access guns,” Thompson said. “And we don't think the answer is to put more guns on campus, because as we've seen, even when there are armed guards on campus, these shootings still happen.”

Speaker Moore is scheduled to appoint a new House committee on school safety and also provide more details about what he'd like the committee to do.

State Superintendent Mark Johnson has sent a memo to school administrators across the state. It reminds them to encourage students to report odd behavior. The memo promotes training sessions that state agencies offer schools about mental health, first aid, and critical incident response.

Last month, when a different legislative committee discussed school safety, some lawmakers proposed adding more armed police officers to schools or arming teachers.

Liz Schlemmer is WUNC's Education Reporter, covering preschool through higher education. Email:
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