Walsh Rolls Out Report from Task Force on School Safety & Security

Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh (R,C-Ballston) and her colleagues from the Assembly Minority Task Force on School Safety & Security shared their legislative solutions to improving safety for New York students and school personnel at a press conference on Thursday. The findings are being released after five public forums were held around the state including in Walsh’s district at the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library. Input for the final report was gathered from education professionals, mental health professionals, parents, law enforcement and members of the public. The full report can be viewed here.

Main points from the final report include:

  • Increasing Law Enforcement Presence in Schools
    • Create a statewide SRO Training and Certification Program (similar to A.9432 of 2022; Byrnes) and require annual recertification.
    • Create a statewide School Safety Agent program modeled after the existing NYC Program.
  • Addressing Mental Health Issues in Schools
    • Ease qualification restrictions for those looking to receive social work degrees or certifications.
    • Provide financial incentives for mental health professionals, school psychologists, and social workers who specialize in child development.
    • Explore utilizing youth apprenticeship programs and early career pathways to provide early exposure and credited training to those interested in these vital careers.
  • Open Communication Between Stakeholders
    • Amend section 9.45 of the Mental Hygiene Law to authorize emergency first responders to report to the County Director of Community Services that an individual has a serious mental health issue that necessitates immediate care/treatment in a hospital.
  • Innovative State Support for School Safety and Security
    • Create the New York State Division of School Safety and Security and task it with identifying existing school safety resources and creating a centralized clearinghouse of information.
    • Expand requirements of Statewide Emergency Response Plans.
  • Identifying Threats and Providing Support to At-Risk Students
    • Empower and encourage school districts to establish or utilize anonymous tip-line services so that students and community members can confidentially report threats concerning school safety and security.
    • Enact Jacobe’s Law (A.2231; Walsh), which requires school administrators to contact parents when bullying or harassment has occurred.
    • Enact (A.4802 of 2022; Smith), which prohibits any elementary or secondary school from being used as a polling site for any election.
  • Hardening Infrastructure at Schools
    • Increase the threshold of projects eligible for funding from the Capital Outlay Program from $100,000 to $250,000.
    • Increase the enhanced Building Aid incentive for school safety projects from 10% to 15%.

“I want to thank everyone who came to make their voice heard before our School Safety and Security Task Force,” said Walsh. “Your testimony is what guided us in crafting our final report and legislative solutions. Our students, educators, administrators and school staff all deserve to feel safe when they enter their respective buildings. I urge my colleagues in the Majority and for Gov. Hochul to engage us on these proposals, this is no time for political posturing. As a member of the Assembly Education Committee, and as a mother, I will continue to work with anyone that is willing to prioritize the safety of our children in the classroom.”