The U.S. Secretary of Education wants to hear from educators and others on how to improve campus security and school safety. In the wake of the tragic events at Virginia Tech, President Bush called on U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt to lead a national dialogue on ways government officials, schools, parents, students, and others can prevent tragedies in America’s schools and on the nation’s college campuses.

As part of this effort, in early May Spellings met with state and local leaders, educators, mental health experts, parents, students, and local law enforcement officials in Albuquerque, to determine how the federal government can best help states and localities keep students safe.

Spellings announced that she is seeking public comment online in an effort to expand this important discussion and gather thoughts and suggestions from across the country. Spellings will consider these suggestions as she develops recommendations for a report to President Bush next month.

Over the next few weeks, federal officials are traveling across the country to meet with state and local leaders, educators, mental health experts, parents, students, and law enforcement officials. Upon completion of this national tour, Secretary Spellings will work with Secretary Leavitt and Attorney General Gonzales to summarize the issues raised and provide a report to President Bush that outlines how the federal government can best help states and localities keep students safe.

Among the information being sought, the following issues will be addressed: How technology can help to communicate with students and school professionals–before, during, and after a crisis situation; how the various institutions involved in protecting students–schools, colleges, law enforcement agencies, the medical and mental health community, and others–can share critical information in a way that protects individuals’ privacy but doesn’t sacrifice public safety; and what the most effective programs and best practices are for preventing school violence and managing crises at U.S. schools and college campuses.

To share comments and suggestions, users can visit http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/safety/dialogue.html. Submitted ideas will help Spellings in developing recommendations that will be incorporated into the larger report to the President next month.

"Nothing is more important to American parents than the safety of their children," said Spellings. "I invite all concerned Americans–parents, educators, law enforcement officials, and students–to share their ideas about school safety online at safeschools@ed.gov. Together, we can strengthen our best practices, raise awareness of warning signs, and help prevent tragedies."

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