Special federal commission recommends ways to prevent mass school shootings

In this Sept. 17, 2018 photo, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speaks during a student town hall at National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. DeVos is proposing a major overhaul to the way colleges handle complaints of sexual misconduct. The Education Department released a plan Friday that would require schools to investigate sexual assault and harassment only if it was reported to certain campus officials and only if it occurred on campus or other areas overseen by the school. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos released a detailed report Tuesday about how schools can prevent mass shootings, but critics say there are recommendations in the report that would hurt minority students and pressure teachers to carry guns.

Tragedies like the mass shooting in Feb. 2018 at a high school school in Parkland, Florida, bring student safety to the forefront. The report by the Federal Commission on School Safety suggests rolling back Obama-era policies designed to protect minority kids from being unfairly disciplined. According to a New York Times report, Obama's 2014 policies advised schools on how to discipline in a nondiscriminatory manner and examine data to look for racial disparities.

"If we just go to straight zero tolerance and all we do is discipline and kick out and get rid of children in schools, that's where you're going to see the greatest disparities in communities of color, black and brown children," said Kalamazoo County Chairwoman Stephanie Moore.

Moore worries it could be a pipeline to prison for students of color.

The National Education Association (NEA) said getting rid of protections for minority students strips them of their civil rights.

The commission disagrees with Obama's policies. The report stated, "Fearful of potential investigations, some school districts may have driven their discipline policies and practices more by numbers than by teacher input."

"We have to look at how we relate to folks and provide best practices so they can be successful. Anything short of that is probably going to be failure," Moore said.

The report encourages schools to work with police and promotes armed personnel in schools.

"It's critical to have armed personnel available at a moments notice. These are people teachers in many cases that are the highest trained that you can get people that are," President Donald Trump said.

The NEA also argues the Federal Commission on School Safety report unfairly pressures teachers to carry guns in schools.

The commission also discussed the importance of people reporting suspicious activity. It said prior to most school shootings that students had concerns about the attacker, but never said anything.

The members of the Federal Commission on School Safety were Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar II and U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

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