Lawmakers and Governor Support Improved School Safety in Alaska

House Resolution 7 Prioritizes Safe Public Schools Free from Violence and Harassment

Anchorage – This morning, during a health and public safety forum in Anchorage, Alaska Governor Bill Walker was presented with and signed a resolution prioritizing school safety and supporting increased training for teachers and other school employees to prevent and respond to school violence. House Resolution 7 was sponsored by the House Education Committee under the direction of committee chair Representative Harriet Drummond (D-Anchorage).

“Students should never be afraid to go to school for fear of violence, but that’s exactly what is happening across the nation. Students should spend their time learning things like the Constitution, Shakespeare, and the life-cycle of plants and animals, not practicing how to duck and cover to prevent being gunned down in their classroom,” said Rep. Drummond. “The near unanimous support for this resolution puts the members of the House of Representatives on record supporting increased training and coordination for those we rely on to both educate our children and keep them safe.”

The horrific school shooting in Parkland, Florida in February resulted in the death of 17 students and staff members after a former student opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle. The Parkland shooting was just the latest in a series of school shootings to result in a national effort to ensure the safety of students in the classroom. Several school districts in Alaska have implemented new safety measures and updated their response plans, and the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development is analyzing safety gaps in Alaska’s schools. The Department also organized the Alaska Safety and Well-Being Summit, which is being held today and tomorrow at the William Egan Civic and Convention Center in Anchorage. The summit features representatives of all 54 school districts in Alaska.

“My priority is to ensure that teachers, administrators, and law enforcement officials have the tools they need to protect our children. What tools to use and how to use them should be a local decision but doing nothing to prepare for the possibility of a school shooting would be reckless,” said Speaker of the House Rep. Bryce Edgmon (D-Dillingham), who is the father of three children, two of them school-aged. “As a lawmaker, I am encouraged by the increased emphasis on school safety by local school districts and the State of Alaska. However, as a father, I see additional things that can and must be done to make sure our schools are safe environments where children can grow and learn without violence and fear.”

HR 7 calls on all education stakeholders to work together to prioritize student safety by increasing training for school employees and coordination with law enforcement agencies and first responders. The resolution also calls for the use of additional safety measures in Alaska’s schools.

House Resolution 7 passed the Alaska House of Representatives in early May by a vote of 37-1. Alaska Governor Bill Walker was presented with the resolution this morning during the Alaska Safety and Well-Being Summit in Anchorage.

For more information, please contact Alaska House Majority Coalition Press Secretary Mike Mason at (907) 444-0889.