WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) — A new coalition of educators, school counselors, pediatricians and others are sharing ways to improve school safety in South Carolina.
The South Carolina Coalition for Safer Schools, made up of the Palmetto State Teachers (PSTA), South Carolina Counseling Association, South Carolina Association of School Psychologists, Institute for Child Success and the South Carolina Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, released their recommendations Friday morning.
The coalition said their work began following the March shooting at Tanglewood Middle School in Greenville.
The coalition’s agenda released on Friday looks at 10 “needed policy areas.”
“When we talk about children’s safety, we’re talking about physical safety, psychological safety and social safety,” said Institute for Child Success Policy Director Deborah DePaoli. “Right now, more than ever this is a crucial need for all our children.”
You can read the full list of recommendations below:
Some of the recommendations include improving school facilities, addressing the counselor-to-student ratio in South Carolina schools, tackling the law enforcement staffing issue so there are school resource officers (SROs) in every school, and addressing firearm theft.
PSTA Director of Governmental Affairs Patrick Kelly said some of these recommendations are proactive to prevent future tragedies.
“We need to do everything we can now. If we can save one life that’s enough for us,” Kelly said.
Coalition members say children deserve to learn in an environment free of fear.
“Students can’t perform and do the things we expect them to do if they feel unsafe,” said 2023 South Carolina Teacher of the Year Deion Jamison.
According to the coalition, ultimately it’s up to school boards, local, state and federal lawmakers to implement some of these recommendations. They said they will advocate for these changes and hope state lawmakers tackle these issues when they return for regular session in 2023.