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Mental Health in Comprehensive School Safety and Security Efforts

  • 1302 Longworth House Office Building (map)

On April 11, 2019, the Secure Schools Alliance, in cooperation with the Congressional School Safety Caucus, is co-hosting a briefing, “The Importance of Mental Health in Comprehensive School Safety and Security Efforts.” Partner organizations include Safe and Sound Schools, the National Association of School Psychologists, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and the Security Industry Association. The briefing will be held at 12 PM in Room 1302 of the Longworth House Office Building.

To attend, please RSVP online by April 9.

“We must look at school health, safety and security holistically, as they are interconnected,” said Robert Boyd, executive director of the Secure Schools Alliance. “Although the Alliance focuses on improving the physical security of K-12 schools, we are excited to join with our partners to brief the Congressional School Safety Caucus on the critical role mental health professionals play in our schools.”

The discussion will be led by Michele Gay, co-founder of Safe and Sound Schools and an Alliance Board Member. After losing her daughter, Josephine Grace, on December 14, 2012, she chose to take action as an advocate for improved school security and safety in our nation’s schools. Michele’s background as a teacher and involved parent, along with her personal loss and post-tragedy perspective, uniquely position her to help school communities prevent tragedy and better prepare and respond in an emergency in their own schools.

Other briefing participants include:

Edward A. Clarke: Chief Safety Officer for Montgomery County Public Schools, the largest school district in Maryland and 14th largest in the country. Prior to this position, Mr. Clarke served as the Executive Director of the Maryland Center for School Safety and played a key role in the passage of the comprehensive Maryland Safe to Learn Act of 2018.

Dr. Kelly Vaillancourt Strobach: Nationally Certified School Psychologist and the Director of Policy and Advocacy at the National Association of School Psychologists. Prior to assuming this role, Dr. Strobach was a school psychologist in Loudoun County Public Schools, where she also served as a member of the District PBIS Coordination Team and the District Crisis Intervention Team.

Dr. Christina Conolly, NCSP: Director for Psychological Services with the Montgomery County Public Schools in Rockville, MD. In this role, she also oversees the Signs of Suicide Prevention Program, Trauma-Informed Schools, and the Behavioral Threat Assessment initiatives.

Paul Kelly: Principal of Elk Grove High School in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. In 2018, Mr. Kelly was named the Illinois High School Principal of the Year by the Illinois Principals Association and was selected by the National Association of Secondary School Principals as one of three finalists for 2019 National Principal of the Year.

Benjamin S. Fernandez, MS Ed: School psychologist working as the Coordinator of Prevention Services for Loudoun County Public Schools, where he coordinates psychological services and division-wide mental health programs for general education and special education students. Mr. Fernandez also manages the coordination of crisis teams and is a PREPaRE master trainer.

About the Secure Schools Alliance
The Secure Schools Alliance and Secure Schools Research and Education is taking a leadership role in launching a national conversation about the issue of school safety and advocating a course of action for addressing it. This convening of education, industry, public safety, law enforcement, corporate, and community leaders will work together to ensure the security of our nation’s schools through federal and state policy, legislation, research, pilot programs, and the promotion of best practices. The goal is to improve the security infrastructure, security technology and life safety systems of all public K-12 schools.