Barletta Applauds $732 Million in School Security Grants for Pennsylvania Students and Educators
WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) commended the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) announcement that two school districts and an educational services agency in Pennsylvania were awarded grants through the STOP School Violence Threat Assessment and Technology Reporting Program. The Shikellamy School District, located in Sunbury, PA, will receive $40,000, the Erie City School District will receive $192,890, and the Delaware County Intermediate Unit will receive $500,000. The STOP School Violence Threat Assessment and Technology Reporting Program was created by the STOP School Violence Act of 2018, which Barletta cosponsored and voted for, and was signed into law on March 23, 2018.
“With this funding, the Shikellamy School District is pleased to have the opportunity to create a crisis intervention team at the Shikellamy High School,” said Shikellamy School District Director of Education Abbey Walshaw-Wertz. “The team will include teachers, students, and staff members trained in violence response, and teachers and staff members trained in the effects of trauma on the student population. In cooperation with local law enforcement agencies, we have already provided several trainings for our employees, but this funding will allow the District to provide more in-depth training to members of our school community. Through these efforts, the school community will be better prepared for a violent threat or incident.”
“As the father of four daughters, two of whom are teachers, and a grandfather of eight, school security is an issue that hits close to home,” Barletta said. “No student should ever go to school in fear, and no parent should have to send their child to school with the possibility of never seeing them again. Schools need to have the means to implement security measures that work best for their students, and the federal government needs to provide the guidance and support for them to do so.”
The STOP School Violence Threat Assessment and Technology Reporting Program improves school security by providing students and teachers with the tools they need to recognize, respond quickly to, and prevent acts of violence. Specifically, the program provides funding to state, local, and Indian tribal governments to create and implement threat assessment and crisis intervention teams, as well as anonymous reporting systems to help identify threats before they result in tragedies. This includes assistance with how to approach individuals with mental health issues, and training for students, school personnel and local law enforcement officers so that they can work together to prevent violent events from happening.
“I’m glad the Department of Justice followed through on my request to make these funds available and get them out the door as quickly as possible so that our communities can improve school security and keep our students and teachers safe,” Barletta said.
In May, Barletta sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, urging him to issue guidance to states and localities on how to apply for school security grant funds offered through the DOJ’s Bureau of Justices Assistance, which the STOP School Violence Threat Assessment and Technology Reporting Program is administered by. The letter also requested that the Attorney General ensure that this money, which was authorized and appropriated by Congress earlier this year, get out the door as quickly as possible so that schools can begin to implement security measures best suited for their students.
In June, Barletta introduced the Protecting Our Kids Act (H.R. 5990), which would take action to improve the safety of America’s students by directing the Department of Education to coordinate with the Department of Homeland Security to establish security standards and guidelines for schools within 60 days of enactment.