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Lawmakers Advance Plan for School Safety Task Force

6:12 PM, Apr 24, 2013   |    comments
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Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- Lawmakers are looking for a way to tackle the issues of mental health and school safety.

A house subcommittee advanced a bill that would create a task force to study the issue.

The move comes as a response to shootings seen across the country like the one in Newtown, Connecticut where mental health has played a role.

"We always come up with knee jerk reactions to things, I think what we need to do is develop a comprehensive framework that involves or entails, not only in terms of addressing mental health, but school safety, school climate," said bill sponsor Jerry Govan, a democrat from Orangeburg County. "Look at intervention and prevention as primary tools in terms of being able to address a situation."

The group would be made up of lawmakers and representatives from community associations related to education and mental health.

It would also include appointees from the governor, SLED, and the state Department of Education.

The task force would be charged with offering a report of its recommendations by the end of 2013.

This would allow lawmakers time to draft legislation for the session.
"What we need to do is look at what's best for South Carolina, and by getting all the players at the table with their knowledge and skills and skill sets, then we can best look at what our needs are based upon our experiences, both past and look at what we're doing at present, and come up with something that is really, truly beneficial to the students," said Govan.

The original bill called for a psychologist to be place in every public school.

Lawmakers moved away from that plan after hearing it could cost more than 60 million dollars in implement.

Govan says he will work to see if the bill can bypass a full committee and go straight to the House floor to improve its chance for survival this session. The bill would still need to receive clearance from the Senate.

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