Jones named to school safety committee

Published 9:18 pm Friday, March 9, 2018

Delegate S. Chris Jones, who represents part of Suffolk, has been named to a new committee on school safety in the Virginia General Assembly.

House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox announced on Thursday the formation of the House Select Committee on School Safety to review state and local policy on school safety and make recommendations for consideration by the General Assembly during the 2019 session. Cox appointed Jones to serve on the select committee.

“Ensuring our children are safe while attending school should be our No. 1 priority in the Virginia House of Delegates,” Jones, a Republican, stated in a press release from his office. “I applaud Speaker Cox for the formation of this select committee, and I look forward to working with the other members to propose meaningful solutions.”

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This is the first select committee formed in the House in 155 years. Select committees are reserved for matters of considerable significance that cross the jurisdiction of conventional and established standing committees. Speaker Cox sent a letter to the Clerk of the House of Delegates on Thursday outlining the scope, membership and work plan of the committee.

“The House of Delegates led the effort in recent years to make our schools safer, but the tragedy in Parkland, Fla., shows us that we must be ever vigilant when it comes to school safety. We are taking a bold and significant step today to make school safety a top priority of the House of Delegates,” said Cox (R-Colonial Heights). “Delegate Jones will bring a unique perspective to the select committee, and I look forward to the ideas he will contribute to the important work ahead of the committee.”

In his letter to the clerk, Cox specifically limited the committee’s scope of work to strengthening emergency preparedness, hardening school security infrastructure, implementing security best practices, deploying additional security personnel, providing additional behavioral health resources for students and developing prevention protocols at primary and secondary institutions across the state.

The committee will not discuss issues related to guns or broader behavioral health policy that are being considered by other commissions or standing committees, according to the press release from Jones’ office. The committee also will not consider security at institutions of higher education, many of which already have rigorous security requirements and are governed by national accrediting agencies that set guidelines for their security.