Skip to main content
Colorado General AssemblyToggle Main Menu
Agency NameToggle Agency Menu

I_SchSafety_2019A 08/20/2019 09:05:03 AM Committee Summary

PUBLIC
STAFF SUMMARY OF MEETING
INTERIM COMMITTEE  SCHOOL SAFETY COMMITTEE
Date 08/20/2019
Attendance
Beckman E
Gardner E
Gonzales X
Lundeen E
Sirota X
Van Winkle E
Fields X
Michaelson Jenet X
X = Present, E = Excused, A = Absent, * = Present after roll call
Time 09:05:03 AM to 04:33:43 PM
Place Old State Library
This Meeting was called to order by Representative Michaelson Jenet
This Report was prepared by Jessika Shipley
Hearing Items Action Taken
Call to Order and Introductory Remarks Committee Discussion Only
Review of Committee Questions from Previous Meeting and Schedule Overview Committee Discussion Only
Creating Consistency in School Safety Across State Departments Committee Discussion Only
Implementing School Safety Protocols Committee Discussion Only
Violence Prevention and Mental Health Committee Discussion Only
Community Policy Conversations Committee Discussion Only
Testimony of John Castillo Committee Discussion Only
Safe2Tell Committee Discussion Only
Parents, Students, Teachers Panel Committee Discussion Only

Call to Order and Introductory Remarks - Committee Discussion Only


09:05:58 AM  

Representative Michaelson Jenet made opening remarks about the work that has been ongoing since the first meeting of the committee on July 11, 2019. She discussed a school safety conference that she attended and spoke about the need for more mental health supports in schools. Senator Fields also made opening remarks.



Review of Committee Questions from Previous Meeting and Schedule Overview - Committee Discussion Only

09:12:14 AM  

Elizabeth Burger and Aaron Carpenter, representing Legislative Council Staff, came to the table to provide an introduction to the agenda for the meeting. Mr. Carpenter spoke about a memo and a spreadsheet given to the committee regarding public comments received since the last meeting (Attachments A and B). He also pointed out a list of questions that were asked at the last meeting and the sections of the agenda when those questions would be addressed (Attachment C). Ms. Burger discussed additional context for the statistics provided at the last meeting. She responded to questions from the committee about economic or social stressors that potentially precipitate school violence. The committee discussed the issue.  Ms. Burger provided information about active shooter situations from a report on the Parkland High School incident.



Creating Consistency in School Safety Across State Departments - Committee Discussion Only

09:26:05 AM  
Representative Michaelson Jenet spoke about the questions the panelists for this agenda item would be addressing. Essi Ellis, representing Safe2Tell, discussed collaboration between Safe2Tell and various state departments.
09:33:20 AM  

Julie Tolleson, representing the Attorney General's Office, provided a formal opinion about what information can and cannot be shared under the federal Family Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) (Attachment D). She explained what is contained in the opinion, including various exceptions to the prohibition on sharing personally identifiable information about students. She pointed out that FERPA is a federal funding mechanism, rather than a law with legal penalties for improper sharing of information. Her message was that there is far more concern about sharing education information than is warranted by the law. Ms. Tolleson responded to questions from the committee about what information is considered part of an education record.

09:40:09 AM  

Chris Harms, representing the Colorado School Safety Resource Center (CSSRC), discussed the work of the CSSRC and talked about the broadness of the idea of school safety. She broke the issue down into two parts: physical safety and psychological safety. She talked about building and grounds physical safety and the importance of funding for door locks and other security measures. She also spoke about the importance of funding for mental health professionals in schools. She referenced a study conducted by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) regarding recommended ratios for mental health professionals in schools. She talked about a list of state agencies involved in the broad umbrella of school safety and provided context about why so many partners are needed for effective collaboration (Attachment E). She addressed a question from the last meeting about resources for post-incident response. The committee asked questions about what entity is providing information about school safety to all schools in Colorado. Committee discussion ensued about metrics for outcomes in the CSSRC. They talked about the various types of threat assessments that are done annually.

09:57:01 AM  
Dana Smith, representing the Colorado Department of Education (CDE), spoke about gaps that exist for rural school districts with regard to conducting threat assessments.
09:59:06 AM  

Cristen Bates, representing the Office of Behavioral Health in the Department of Human Services, provided a hard copy of her presentation (Attachment F). She addressed mobile response and a crisis hotline used for threat and suicide assessments for youth. She talked about a program called Sources of Strength, which is an intervention-based program that is widely used in Colorado. She indicated that the focus of her office is evidence-based practices to prevent suicide, bullying, violence, and substance abuse. She talked about a coordinated video campaign for crisis prevention and stressed the importance of cross-department communications. She responded to questions about the video campaign.

10:14:50 AM  
Representative Michaelson Jenet went over the list of questions in Attachment C and invited the panelists to answer them. Discussion ensued. Threat assessments were the major focus of the conversation.
10:33:03 AM  
The discussion continued on the topic of the potential for trauma in the aftermath of lockdown drills. The chair asked for more information on drills.



Implementing School Safety Protocols - Committee Discussion Only


10:40:59 AM  
Dr. Diana Sirko, representing Mesa County Valley School District 51, Chris Gdowski, representing Adams 12 School District, John McDonald, representing Jefferson County Public Schools, Dr. Thomas Tucker representing Douglas County Schools, and Erin Kane, representing American Academy, came to the table as a panel to respond to the questions listed in Attachment C.
10:49:41 AM  
Dr. Sirko spoke about the measures Mesa County has taken in the area of response to threat assessments. Mr. McDonald raised the issue of inadequate funding to provide mental health services. He discussed the lockdown drill protocol used by Jefferson County.
10:53:00 AM  
Ms. Kane recommended focusing on consistency in the school safety framework and expressed her opinion that Safe2Tell is extremely valuable and saves lives. Dr. Tucker stressed the importance of a balance between physical safety and psychological safety. He agreed with Ms. Kane's focus on consistency. Mr, Gdowski indicated that the safety protocols in Adams 12 schools have come about through lessons learned, rather than legislation. The panelists responded to questions from the committee.
11:02:47 AM  

Discussion continued about local control in the school safety space. The panelists spoke about funding decisions that have to made about whether to fund school resource officers or mental health professionals.

11:15:36 AM  
The discussion turned to consistency under the Claire Davis Act. The panelists raised concerns about the lack of specificity around the reasonable standard of care in the act. The committee talked about the reasons that kids in Colorado are in crisis.
11:30:08 AM  

Senator Fields returned to the issue of lockdown drills. Mr. McDonald walked the committee through the process of a drill.



Violence Prevention and Mental Health - Committee Discussion Only

11:38:30 AM  
Dr. Floyd Cobb, representing CDE, discussed best practices for the prevention of bullying.
11:43:12 AM  
Sarah Younggren, representing Mental Health Colorado, spoke about community-driven models of suicide and violence prevention and how to handle post-incident response. She also talked about trauma caused by drills.
11:47:15 AM  

Abe Laydon, representing Douglas County, provided written testimony and a report to the committee (Attachments G and H).

11:52:16 AM  

Lora Thomas, representing Douglas County, provided written testimony and a report to the committee (Attachments I and J).

11:56:59 AM  

Stephen Fusco, representing the Center for Special Education Law, addressed the threat assessment process and made a distinction between transient threats and substantive threats. He also raised the issue of training for school resource officers.

12:01:55 PM  
Pamela Bisceglia, representing Advocacy Denver, spoke about threat assessments and students with special needs.
12:05:51 PM  
Deanna Hirsch and Denise Maes, representing the ACLU, spoke about the recommended ratio of mental health professionals to students in schools. They discussed the efficacy of school resource officers and the disproportionate number of minority students who are arrested in school settings. They recommended the prioritization of funding for mental health professionals over that of law enforcement in schools.
12:14:14 PM  

The committee discussed measures Douglas County has put in place to enhance school safety. The panelists talked about a multi-disciplinary approach to school safety.  The committee recessed for lunch.



Community Policy Conversations - Committee Discussion Only


01:31:14 PM  
The committee returned to order.
01:32:16 PM  

Denille LePlatt, representing CDE, spoke about rural schools in Colorado and school safety preparedness. She listed both challenges and opportunities that rural schools have dealt with.

01:40:48 PM  
Kathy Morris, representing Durango School District 9-R, talked about interoperability and training in the area of school safety.
01:43:11 PM  
Michelle Murphy, representing the Colorado Rural Schools Alliance, talked about funding gaps faced by rural school districts and problems filling mental health treatment provider slots.
01:47:36 PM  
Dr. Sarah Davidon, representing Mental Health Colorado, discussed the provision of mental health services to students.
01:58:09 PM  
Jake Cousins, representing Padres y Jovenes Unidos, spoke about community conversations with educators, students, and parents about healthy school climates.
02:01:41 PM  
Amie Baca Oehlert, representing the Colorado Education Association, talked about ongoing needs assessments, a focus on social emotional learning, smaller ratios for mental health professionals, and the need to bring play and fun back into the learning environment.
02:07:54 PM  
The panel responded to questions from the committee about the ratio of adults to students in schools and adequate funding to let local school districts make decisions about appropriate staffing.
02:26:02 PM  
The discussion turned to issues faced by some Latinx students with regard to immigration issues.



Testimony of John Castillo - Committee Discussion Only


02:30:47 PM  
John Castillo, father of Kendrick Castillo, spoke about his son and the potential that was lost when Kendrick was killed in a school shooting. He discussed Safe2Tell and the labeling of school shootings.



Safe2Tell - Committee Discussion Only


02:44:41 PM  

Matt Baca, representing the Attorney General's Office, introduced Essi Ellis, who is the executive director of Safe2Tell. Ms. Ellis distributed a written presentation (Attachment K). Ms. Ellis discussed the methods of reporting that Safe2Tell supports, with particular focus on reporting through the mobile application. She listed the top substantive tip categories for the past school year. She talked about fostering high-functioning local early intervention teams between school officials and law enforcement, which include mental health professionals.

02:58:17 PM  
Kevin Klein, representing the Division of the Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness in the Department of Public Safety, came to the table to talk about his division's response to Safe2Tell tips.
03:05:33 PM  

The panelists responded to questions about what the legislature can do to help improve school safety.

03:13:54 PM  

Stacy Gahagan and Brandon Shaffer, representing St. Vrain Valley School District, discussed House Bill 18-1434 concerning Safe2Tell. Mr. Shaffer spoke about the misuse of Safe2Tell and the difference between anonymity and confidentiality. Ms. Gahagan stated her opinion that Safe2Tell is the number one mechanism for keeping kids safe in schools. She explained how the system works.

03:24:09 PM  

Ms. Gahagan and Mr. Shaffer responded to committee questions related to false reporting to Safe2Tell.



Parents, Students, Teachers Panel - Committee Discussion Only


03:31:02 PM  
Elena Asencio, representing herself, talked about her experience with lockdown drills and losing a friend to a shooting.
03:32:29 PM  
Tyler Miller, representing himself, expressed his opinion that preparedness drills and the presence of school resource officers make schools safer. He responded to questions from the committee.
03:40:55 PM  

Will Bales, father of Nick Bales, spoke about mental health crisis incidents and his son's suicide.

03:49:02 PM  

Lorena Limon, representing herself, spoke in Spanish about the treatment her children have faced in school due to their minority status and Mr. Cousins from Padres y Jovenes Unidos translated her story.

03:54:18 PM  

Randy Brown, representing himself, spoke about toxic school environments and Safe2Tell. He talked about humiliation creating violence. He expressed his opinion that taking away humiliation from kids will reduce violence.

03:57:55 PM  
The panel responded to questions from the committee.
04:05:56 PM  
Kasey Ellis, representing herself, spoke about her experience with the Columbine High School shooting and as an educator helping a student struggling with trauma. She lauded Cherry Creek Schools for its efforts to ensure that students are safe at school.
04:11:11 PM  

John Ford, representing himself, talked about his experience as a teacher and a father whose son said that he wanted to commit suicide. He spoke about a partnership with Sources of Strength.

04:16:20 PM  
Lucas Ketzer, representing RiseUp Community School, talked about building communities and cultural identities. He spoke about his students' experience with police contact.
04:20:17 PM  
Representative Michaelson Jenet made closing remarks. Representative Sirota brought up the issue of access to weapons. Senator Fields spoke about companies that attempt to profit on the fear caused by school violence. Senator Gonzales asked what it would cost to equip every school in Colorado with the proper ratio of adults to students.


04:33:43 PM   The committee adjourned.






COVID-19 Resources

Temporary Guidelines for Review and Comment Meetings

The House and Senate are temporarily adjourned. The building is closed to the public.