The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

January 29, 2013

Panel focusing on school safety

By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Next week will be the second meeting of a commission charged with finding ways to make Oklahoma schools safer places.

Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb spoke about the goals of the Oklahoma Commission on School Security while in Enid Friday. The commission held its first meeting Jan. 22 and will meet again Tuesday.

The 23-member commission is made up of law enforcement officials, school personnel, health care professionals and parents from across the state. Its formation was inspired by the rise of shootings in schools, including a December incident at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

“Nothing can prevent all evil from occurring. However, the goal is to lessen the chance,” Lamb said.

He said the commission’s intention is to not only come up with recommendations, but also do it in time for bills to be written and presented to the Legislature.

“I reminded them this is not a commission in perpetuity,” Lamb said.

Lamb said what the commission will not be doing is delving into the issue of gun control.

“That’s not a state issue,” Lamb said. “That’s a federal issue.”

So far, commission members have heard a presentation from a nationally recognized school security expert, heard statistics on the number of knives and guns found in schools in Oklahoma, heard a mental health perspective on school violence and heard from the director of the Oklahoma Department of Homeland Security.

Lamb said commission members will be given three topics to address at Tuesday’s meeting.

With such a diverse group, the challenge is to get everyone on the same page, Lamb said. But for the job the commission is tasked with, that shouldn’t be hard to do.

“Everybody wants our kids in schools safe,” Lamb said.

Enid Public Schools officials are looking forward to the commission’s suggestions, the district’s spokeswoman said.

“All of the schools continue to review their safety plans, and resources that assist with emergency preparedness and response are helpful to the process,” said Amber Fitzgerald, human resources and communications director for EPS. “We are especially interested to hear the recommendations and findings from Lt. Gov. Lamb’s task force. We appreciate his commitment and attention to student safety.”