McMorris Unveils Legislation to Protect Children in Classrooms at School Safety Roundtable with Community Leaders

Safe to Tell Act Would Help Detect Potential Threats, Prevent School Violence

Liberty Lake, Wash. – Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) today announced the reintroduction of the bipartisan Safe to Tell Act during a school safety roundtable with local superintendents, school board officials, school safety officers, school counselors, and law enforcement officers.

The Safe to Tell Act, which Cathy introduced with Congressman Jim Himes (CT-04) would help keep children safe in schools by supporting the creation of threat reporting programs nationwide. Specifically, this bill would provide grant funding for states to implement the Safe2Tell tip line, which allows students to anonymously report safety concerns or threats of violence. 

“As a mom, I cannot imagine the pain of parents who dropped their kids off at school not knowing it would be the last time they’d ever see their smiling faces again. These senseless acts of violence are often preventable with the right tools, and it’s time we provide them to school districts across Eastern Washington and the country,” said Rodgers. “Our community came together today to show we are committed to ensuring schools are safe places for our kids to learn, thrive, and reach their full potential. By leading on creative and innovative solutions that work, like Safe2Tell’s confidential reporting system, I’m hopeful we can save lives and give parents confidence that their children are safe at all times.”

The Safe to Tell Act would provide $25 million in grant funding annually for 4 years to the Department of Justice to promote the creation of this confidential reporting program in states across the country.

During the roundtable, community leaders discussed how this legislation should be one of the solutions implemented to keep children safe in the classroom. They also discussed the need for more mental health resources for students, teachers, and families. Cathy highlighted her work leading on the Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act, much of which was signed into law last year, to increase mental health resources for schools and communities working to solve the mental health crisis. Additionally, industry leaders focused on school safety discussed the federal funding available to school districts that will ensure these resources aren’t cost prohibitive. 

“One of the top priorities for government and communities is to ensure their children are safe,” said Spokane Chief of Police Craig Meidl. “It is everyone’s responsibility to guarantee our children can learn in a safe and healthy environment. Community conversations like this help direct those conversations towards action and programs crucial to school safety.”

“The safety of our children is critical to a healthy community. The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office and the Spokane County Board of County Commissioners have strong relationships with our school district partners which ensure we have one or more uniformed deputies assigned to every school district,” said Spokane County Sheriff John Nowels. “These deputies keep our kids safe and build lasting relationships with students and staff. Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers’ leadership and support of law enforcement in our schools is both appreciated and needed. At a time when school budgets are tight, Federal support through grant funding of proven programs like this can make all the difference in student safety.”

“Our region knows all too well the devastation of losing local students to violence,” said Washington State University Chief of Police Gary Jenkins. “Federal funding for the WSU Pullman Safety Enhancement Project, Safe to Tell Act, and STOP School Violence Act are all measures that will enhance school safety for students, faculty, staff, and visitors. Washington State University greatly appreciates the efforts of Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers to champion school safety.

“We appreciate the efforts of Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers to increase investment in school safety. Bringing together policymakers, law enforcement, education leaders, business leaders, entrepreneurs, and safety experts to collectively focus on strengthening safety in our schools is vitally important work,” said Mead School District Superintendent Travis Hanson. “We must remain committed to working collaboratively to share collective expertise and resources and identify effective, sustainable school safety strategies – our kids deserve nothing less.”

“We are excited to be a part of this roundtable,” said Central Valley School District Superintendent John Parker. “The forethought of Cathy McMorris Rodgers to look at school safety as a school district and community priority, together with all these constituents, is commendable. We look forward to the conversation and outcomes.”

“At CPPS, we believe that every child deserves a safe and secure learning environment. We commend Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers and her team for organizing this crucial School Safety Roundtable,” said Center for Personal Protection & Safety (CPPS) CEO Randy Spivey. “Our Safe Schools Program promotes safety in K-12 institutions, aligning with national standards and remaining affordable for schools, districts, and states. Together, we can create safer communities for our children and foster an environment where they can thrive without fear.”

“We are grateful to Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers for her leadership and putting together a great event focused on school safety and security in Eastern Washington,” said ZeroEyes Senior Vice President of Strategy Dustin Kisling. “ZeroEyes was founded to help mitigate and reduce active shooters in schools. Collaborating with Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers represents a remarkable opportunity to demonstrate the potential when industry and congressional leaders unite to enhance school safety. Together we will continue to work to make our schools a safer place for our children. We thank her for her steadfast leadership.”

NOTE: Safe2Tell, which was first created in response to 1999’s Columbine school shooting, is a critical tool in Colorado’s battle against school violence. In a review of the program’s effectiveness during the 2020-21 school year, the Colorado attorney general found that 95 percent of the 11,388 reports received were actionable items, including suicide threats, welfare checks, drug abuse, self-harm, and cyber bullying.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Safe2Tell program.

CLICK HERE for a full report on the program’s effectiveness in Colorado.

CLICK HERE to read the full text of the legislation.

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