PROVIDENCE, RI — In the wake of recent violence across the nation, Governor Dan McKee, the Rhode Island State Police, and the Rhode Island Department of Education announced further collaboration between superintendents and local law enforcement agencies to identify potential school safety issues and to fund any necessary repairs or upgrades.
"Public safety, and especially the safety of our children, must be our highest priority," said Governor McKee. "The best way for us to ensure that what happened in Uvalde cannot happen here is to make serious investments in repairs and security upgrades. Rhode Island families deserve that peace of mind."
Every leader of a local education agency in the state will conduct walkthroughs of the school facilities in their district and complete a comprehensive survey of potential emergency hazards, including reviews of doors and windows, car access, landscape features, lighting, alarm and camera systems, and communications systems. These walkthroughs and corresponding reports will be shared with RIDE and the School Safety Committee by Friday, June 10.
"As the mother of two school-aged children, I can relate to the feeling of uncertainty and worry parents are feeling right now in the wake of the Uvalde mass shooting," said Lt. Governor Sabina Matos. "This is why we must be proactive in addressing school safety and supporting our local school districts with the resources necessary to secure our schools and protect our students. I want to thank our district leaders, principals, educators, and support staff for working with us on this very important initiative."
"There is nothing more important than the safety and well-being of our children. The Rhode Island State Police works with state and local public safety partners to ensure that all stakeholders are trained and prepared. Most importantly, we focus on prevention through intelligence gathering, and actively engage school officials with training and conducting security assessments," said Rhode Island State Police Colonel Darnell S. Weaver. "We join the rest of the state in mourning all victims of gun violence."
Schools where potential hazards are found will be encouraged to work with local law enforcement and their school safety teams to identify solutions to those hazards, including determining the time and cost of implementation. RIDE will authorize up to $500,000 in emergency approval through the School Building Authority for each district to make whatever additional security upgrades their school facilities need and be reimbursed after the work is complete.
"School safety is vital, and it starts with ensuring that our facilities are well-maintained and following the most recent guidance from law enforcement experts," said Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green. "We are grateful to our local education leaders for their swift and thorough response to this call to action from the Governor. Rhode Island students and families should feel safe knowing that such dedicated and dependable educators lead their district."
"School superintendents across Rhode Island are in agreement the safety of our children is of ultimate importance," said Rhode Island School Superintendents Association President Kathryn Crowley. "The security of our schools is nothing new to us. We have been working diligently to assure the safety of our students and staffs since Sandy Hook. We will use the comprehensive survey to identify any security issues we have not addressed and welcome the additional resources being provided by the State to address those issues. Our students and their parents need to be assured our schools are safe havens."
"Our schools and educators have one of the most important jobs — teaching students and ensuring that they are safe," said Keith Oliveira, Executive Director of the Rhode Island League of Charter Schools. "The R.I. League of Charter Schools extends its appreciation to Governor McKee and Commissioner Infante-Green for prioritizing school safety through grants to make improvements to our school buildings. All of our charter schools have existing school safety plans; this additional funding will help to support any gaps or improvements that they may find in light of recent violence."