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Advocates to Betsy DeVos: Give Educators 'Meaningful Opportunities' To Inform School Safety Work

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Eight organizations—representing state chiefs, parents, local superintendents, and principals as well as school social workers, counselors, and psychologists—want U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to give their members a voice when it comes to the work of the president's school safety commission.

The commission, which is charged with making recommendations in the wake of the deadly massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February, is led by DeVos. The other three members are also cabinet secretaries: Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen. The commission had its first meeting in March, but has yet to convene again.

The organizations don't think the Commission has done enough to solicit impact from educators and other professionals who are on the ground in schools every day. And they said so in a letter sent to the secretary Friday, even before a second deadly shooting occured at Santa Fe High School, near Houston.

"Our organizations share the Commission's commitment to enhancing school safety and student well-being and appreciate the Secretary's recent invitation to attend a school safety meeting on May 17 in Washington, D.C.," the advocates wrote. "Regrettably, there have been no further public announcements or specific details provided regarding meaningful opportunities for concerned citizens, practitioners, and experts in the field to engage with the Commission. Our organizations ask that the Commission works urgently to meaningfully engage stakeholders in the field."

The letter was signed by AASA: The School Superintendents Association, the American School Counselor Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National Association of School Psychologists, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National PTA, and the School Social Work Association of America.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a Cabinet meeting at the White House on March 13. —Andrew Harnik/AP

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