For immediate release: August 2, 2023
Contact: [email protected]
AZED holds first School Safety Task Force meeting
Focus on integrating law enforcement and social work for improved safety
PHOENIX – Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne convened the first School Safety Task Force today with a focus on getting more armed officers in schools in concert with social workers to protect Arizona’s schoolchildren, educators, and staff.
Horne stated, “Protecting the lives of our children is one of the most important issues we face. We hope that the School Safety Task Force will work to increase the number of law enforcement officers and social workers in schools as well as using our role in Career and Technical Education to encourage more people to consider law enforcement as a profession.”
He added, “I am grateful for all of the educators, law enforcement professionals, community leaders and both Democrat and Republican elected officials who have come together in this vital, bipartisan effort.”
In the meeting, department staff reported that funding for School Resource Officers (SROs) has been utilized to expand the number of SROs from 190 in the previous administration to 301 currently. In addition, 522 social workers and counselors have been funded.
Among the challenges posed to the task force are the need for additional counselors, social workers and law enforcement officers to address staffing shortages.
As work continues, the group will explore ways to integrate counselors and social workers into an effective School Safety Program, expand the definition of an SRO in accordance with state certification requirements so the applicant pool can be enlarged. Also, they will consider allowing schools to hire School Safety Officers (SSOs), review training models, and review Law Related Education.
The department is also working to expand its role in Career and Technical Education (CTE) to encourage students to consider public safety careers. Currently, 122 high schools12 CTE Districts statewide are training 72,292 students for careers in public safety.