Arizona department of education holds first school safety task force meeting

As Arizona kids go back to school, the Arizona Department of Education's Safety Task Force is back in session brainstorming ways to keep our kids safe. Held Aug. 2, the most recent meeting focused on providing more armed officers in schools as well as social workers to protect Arizona's students, educators, and staff. 

In the meeting, department staff reported that funding for School Resource Officers (SROs) has been utilized to expand the number of SROs from 190 in the previous administration to 301 currently. In addition, 522 social workers and counselors have received funding. This follows an announcement earlier this year announcing more than $100 million dollars in funding from state and federal grants would go to provide SRO's at more than 300 Arizona schools.

Convened by Tom Horne, Arizona's Superintendent of Public Instruction, who just took office in January 2023, Horne stated, "Protecting the lives of our children is one of the most important issues we face. We hope that the School Safety Task Force will work to increase the number of law enforcement officers and social workers in schools as well as using our role in Career and Technical Education to encourage more people to consider law enforcement as a profession."


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Among the challenges posed to the task force are the need for additional counselors, social workers and law enforcement officers to address staffing shortages.

MORE: Full summary of the meeting can be found here.

The school safety taskforce was formed in 2019 after a bill was sponsored in the state legislature to establish a taskforce within the Arizona Department of Education. After students involved with the Arizona chapter of March for Our Lives lobbied the legislators to pass House Bill 2597 in the 2019 session, the bill failed to pass. However, this loss did not end the students’ vision for school safety. Instead, the former Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman partnered with the organization to create the first-ever statewide School Safety Task Force; a multidisciplinary group convened to reframe school safety as a multidimensional approach to safety, health and violence.