June 21, 2018

CT's Wentzell on U.S. school-safety panel

Connecticut's top educator Dianna Wentzell and 11 others have been seated on a newly formed steering committee exploring ways to improve safety in the nation's schools.

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) announced the appointment of Wentzell, this state's education commissioner, to its School Safety Steering Committee.

Joining Wentzell on the panel is former Hartford schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto, now Hawaii's education superintendent.

The steering committee, the council said, will identify promising best practices for preventing school violence and determine what guidance or support CCSSO will offer to states around school safety.

Based in Washington D.C., CCSSO is billed as a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the U.S. and its territories.

"As a lifelong educator, I know that we need to take a well-rounded, comprehensive approach to fostering a positive climate in our schools in which students and staff feel ready to learn and teach, and—above all—safe and secure," Wentzell said in a statement.

"We can achieve this," she said, "through a number of measures, such as utilizing school-based health and wellness centers that support the social emotional well-being of students and making smart investments in infrastructure upgrades that ensure schools remain welcoming places and not fortresses."

Other safety steering committee members are:

Elsie Arntzen, Montana's state superintendent

Jillian Balow, Wyoming's state superintendent

Brenda Cassellius, Minnesota education commissioner

Tony Dearman, U.S. Bureau of Indian Education director

Michael Johnson, Alaska's commissioner of education

Lamont Repollet, New Jersey's education commissioner

Pedro Rivera, Pennsylvania's education secretary

Karen Salmon, Maryland's state superintendent

Pam Stewart, Florida's education commissioner

Ryan Wise, Iowa's education director

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