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April 23, 1999: Action to Keep Our Schools Safe

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We must do more to keep guns out of the hands of children; to help our young people express their anger and alienation with words, not weapons; to prevent violence from shattering the peace of our schoolyards. By taking actions to prevent future acts of violence in our schools, we can best honor the memories of those who lost their lives.

President Bill Clinton
April 23, 1999

Today, at the White House, President Clinton announced new assistance for the community of Littleton, Colorado and added resources for communities to help keep students safe at school. Specifically, he announced up to $1.5 million in immediate funding from the Justice Department to assist the victims, their families, and the Jefferson County community with expenses relating to the Littleton school shooting; and $70 million in Justice Department grants to help fund more than 600 school resource officers in 336 communities across the country.

Expanding Assistance to Victims. In response to the recent tragedy at Columbine High School, and subsequent requests from Colorado authorities, the Justice Department will provide up to $1.5 million in immediate funds from the Crime Victims Fund to support:

  • Direct compensation to victims and their family members for funerals, uncovered medical expenses, lost wages of parents, and private mental health counseling for victims;

  • Additional personnel and overtime costs for critical incident stress management services for first responders to the crisis; and

  • Added victims services and counseling personnel to help meet the immediate and longer-term support needs of the community.

Helping Schools Work with Law Enforcement to Prevent Crime and Violence. The President announced that the Justice Department COPS Office will release $70 million to fund an additional 600 police officers in schools in 336 communities across the country. Todays announcement is the first installment in meeting the Presidents pledge made at the White House Conference on School Safety to provide funds for up to 2,000 officers in schools this fiscal year. In addition, the COPS Office is providing $17 million through a School-Based Partnerships initiative. The funds will help strengthen partnerships between local law enforcement and schools, and help them to focus on school crime, drug use, and discipline problems. Schools have until the end of April to apply for these funds.

Promoting Comprehensive School Safety Strategies. The President urged communities to apply for funds through the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative. This initiative will provide up to $180 million this year -- and a total of $380 million over the next three years -- to help 50 communities develop and implement violence prevention programs, such as establishing conflict resolution groups, hiring more mental health counselors, or installing security equipment. A product of the White House School Safety Conference, this initiative represents an unprecedented collaboration between the Departments of Justice, Education, and Health and Human Services to provide comprehensive educational, law enforcement, mental health, juvenile justice, and other services to help communities prevent youth violence and drug abuse, in and out of school. Communities have until June 1st to apply for funds under this initiative.

Distributing Additional Guides on the Early Warning Signs of Violence. Next week, the Departments of Justice and Education will distribute 150,000 additional copies of Early Warning Timely Response: A Guide to Safe Schools. The guide, written for teachers, principals, parents, and others who work with young people, provides information on how to identify and respond to the early warning signs of troubled youth that can lead to violence in schools. The guide also helps schools develop a crisis procedure checklist if violence occurs, and lists actions students can take to help make their schools safer. More than 200,000 guides have already been distributed to schools across the nation, and is available on the worldwide web at http://www.ed.gov/offices/OSERS/OSEP/earlywrn.html, or by calling 1-877-4ED-PUBS.

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