WASHINGTON — A federal commission founded in response to the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School says local school districts bear responsibility in improving school safety.

  • Commission says local school district responsible for improving safety
  • Report focuses on prevention, protection, rather than gun issues
  • JUMP TO: Report Overview ▼

Several parents whose children were killed in February’s mass shooting in Parkland were at the White House Tuesday where President Donald Trump unveiled a long list of recommendations to improve school safety.

Max Schachter, Andrew Pollack, and Ryan Petty all lost children in the Valentine’s Day attack. They have since worked with state and federal lawmakers to draw attention to gaps in school security. Schachter and Petty are also appointed members of the state’s MSDHS Public Safety Commission.

The latest federal recommendations are part of a newly released 177-page report authored by the President’s Federal Commission on School Safety.

Chaired by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, the group developed 93 best practices for schools across the U.S. to increase safety measures.

Max Schachter said schools across the U.S. are uncoordinated in safety efforts, a point he hopes state and federal recommendations will change.

“I found in pockets of this country there are great things being done, but the problem is nobody knows about it,” Max Schachter said. “It was the creation and recommendation in this final report today to create a clearinghouse and inside that clearinghouse they’ll provide national school safety best practices, to give schools guidance around the country. That was my vision, and I’m thankful to the President for making that one of the recommendations.”

Despite student protests in the days after the shooting calling on gun reform initiatives, the commission’s report does not focus on gun issues, but rather on prevention and protection.

The two key areas of the report includes recommendations that districts invest in expanding anti-bullying and mental health programs, as well as increasing physical school security measures and carrying out active shooter drills.

Florida lawmakers passed a state law in the weeks after the shooting that now requires every school to conduct at least one active shooter training drill per semester.

Report Overview

The Federal Commission on School Safety Report contains 19 chapters divided into three sections based on well-established phases of security planning:


1. Character Development and a Culture of Connectedness

2. Cyberbullying and School Safety

3. Curating a Healthier and Safer Approach: Issues of Mental Health and Counseling for Our Young

4. Integrating Mental Health, Primary Care, Family Services, and Court-Ordered Treatment

5. Using Suspicious Activity Reporting and Threat Assessments to Enhance School Safety

6. Effects of Press Coverage of Mass Shootings

7. Violent Entertainment and Rating Systems

8. The Obama Administration’s “Rethink School Discipline” Guidance

9. The Effectiveness and Appropriateness of Psychotropic Medication for Treatment of Troubled Youth

10. The Efficacy of Age Restrictions for Firearm Purchases

11. Extreme Risk Protection Order Laws

12. Improvements to the FBI’s Public Access Line


13. Training School Personnel to Help Ensure Student Safety

14. Emergency and Crisis Training for Law Enforcement

15. The Transition of Military Veterans and Retired Law Enforcement Officials into New Careers in Education

16. Best Practices for School Building Security

17. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and Other Statutory and Regulatory Privacy Protections

18. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Other Statutory and Regulatory Privacy Protections


19. Active Shooter Preparedness and Mitigation

The federal commission stopped short of mandating national requirements, instead saying that no fix is one-size-fits-all.

“Each of us has an important role to play in keeping our students safe while at school,” said U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Chair of the commission. “Through the Commission’s work, it has become even clearer there is no single policy that will make our schools safer. What will work for schools in Montana will be different than what will work for schools in Manhattan."

She continued, "With that in mind, this report provides a wide-ranging menu of best practices and resources that all state, community, and school leaders should consider while developing school safety plans and procedures that will work for their students and teachers.”

Florida’s MSDHS Public Safety Commission released their own report recently, totaling more than 400 pages.

The state commission found a web of failures in which it says local law enforcement, schools officials, and others failed to recognize warning signs that could have prevented the high school attack.

The commission also recommended arming teachers who volunteer and undergo extensive background checks.