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HCPSS / NEWS

Interim Superintendent Provides Testimony to the Maryland House of Delegates on Issues of School Safety

March 6th, 2018

Today, Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) Interim Superintendent, Michael J. Martirano, provided testimony to the Maryland House of Delegates regarding House Bill 760 – Handguns – School Employees – Handgun Permits and Carrying Weapons on School Property.

Martirano’s testimony “vehemently” opposed arming school employees and instead called for the General Assembly to “look for ways to support the enhancement of physical safety of our school facilities and provide more resources for student supports—particularly around mental health.”

“No one wants to see innocent children die yet again, in what should be the safest place on Earth—our schools,” said Martirano in his testimony. “Arming teachers with deadly weapons is not the way to do it. Teachers become teachers with that purpose in mind. They do not become teachers to serve as armed security or as law enforcement. As superintendent, I cannot expect my workforce to simultaneously be exemplary educators and armed security.”

Last week, HCPSS hosted a School Safety and Mental Health Community Forum in the wake of the recent tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Six hundred community members attended the public forum to ask questions and engage in dialogue with the panel comprising of school system staff and community partners about solutions to ensuring that Howard County schools are safe and healthy learning environments for children and staff.

There, Martirano introduced a multi-pronged approach to create safer schools, including enhanced physical school security, stronger policies and training around active shooter response; increased mental health support for students; and greater collaboration between the school system and community. He also announced several initiatives to enhance the physical security of its schools, including installing a buzzer system and locking the front doors of every high school by the end of this school year.

Additionally, the school system recently established the Office of Safety and Security to address and review policies on school security, enhance training for students and staff, reinforce the importance of lockdown drills, and implement security improvements based on individual school visits. The Office of Safety and Security has also created a workgroup with the Department of Special Education, the Special Education parent liaison, and many parent advocates to assess evacuation procedures for students with special needs.

Read Dr. Martirano’s full testimony.

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