Safe and Supportive Schools

In This Section



Notes from the Backpack Podcast


Fostering a Positive School Environment

Every child deserves to learn in a safe and supportive environment and to have the opportunity to grow into a happy and healthy adult. There is no greater shared responsibility among school leaders, teachers, parents, public safety officials, community members and decisionmakers than keeping students safe at school. PTA recognizes that there must be a balance between the physical security of our schools and the physiological safety of our students, which is why we are dedicated to ensuring our schools have both the necessary physical security measures and the necessary student support services to keep our students safe.

Safe and Supportive Schools



We Advocate To


Provide and connect students with necessary behavioral and mental health resources at school and in their community


Improve access to and funding for qualified school-based health and wellness practitioners, such as school counselors, school nurses, school psychologists and school social workers


Encourage schools to refrain from arming educators and other school personnel


Require all decisions related to physical security measures—including the use of School Resource Officer (SRO) —to be locally determined, collaborative and incorporate input from students, parents, families, educators, school leaders and the community


Encourage schools to use positive school discipline policies and behavioral interventions and supports that are effective, fair and consistently implemented



The Data

34% of parents feared for their child’s safety at school in 2018, a 22% increase from 2013 [1]

76% of parents are more supportive of spending money on mental health services for students than spending money on armed guards in school [1]

63% of parents oppose allowing armed educators and staff in schools [1]

1 in 5 schools do not have a school counselor [2]

African American students are three times more likely to be suspended or expelled than white students [3]

Students with disabilities are twice as likely to receive an out of school suspension than students without disabilities [4]


[1] PDK Poll. (2018). 2018 PDK poll of the public’s attitudes toward the public schools: School security results. Arlington, VA: PDK Poll. [2] Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. (2016). 2013-2014 civil rights data collection. Washington, DC: Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/2013-14-first-look.pdf [3] Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. (2014). 2011-2012 civil rights data collection. Washington, DC: Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. https://ocrdata.ed.gov/Downloads/CRDC-School-Discipline-Snapshot.pdf [4] Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. (2018). 2015-2016 civil rights data collection. Washington, DC: Department of Education Office for Civil Rights https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/school-climate-and-safety.pdf [5] Cowan, K. C., Vaillancourt, K., Rossen, E., & Pollitt, K. (2013). A framework for safe and successful schools [Brief ]. Bethesda. MD: National Association of School Psychologists.

Voice From the Field

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Marguerite Herman
Wyoming PTA

Marguerite Herman comes from a state where the school safety discussion tends to primarily focus on arming educators and “hardening” schools (adding physical security measures to school buildings, such as metal detectors). Marguerite passionately felt that the conversation around school safety in Wyoming—and across the country—was ignoring the deep need for mental health and student support services.

When Marguerite learned that the Federal Commission on School Safety was traveling to Wyoming to hear from the public about school safety, she was worried that the commission would only hear from those who support hardening schools. She knew she needed to take action, so she volunteered to testify before the commission on the importance of providing students with a positive school environment, behavioral and mental health services and ensuring parents are involved in all school safety-related decisions.

Marguerite’s testimony was heard by representatives of the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as members of the public who watched the listening session on livestream.



About Statewide Family Engagement Centers


The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which was signed into law by President Obama in December 2015, includes the Statewide Family Engagement Centers (SFECs) program. SFECs provide states and districts with the capacity to support effective family engagement policies and initiatives. They also provide training and guidance to help parents and families become equal partners with educators in improving their child’s academic achievement. Recently, the program received $10 million in funding, with eleven states receiving grants to start a Statewide Family Engagement Center. Learn More.

Statewide Family Engagement Centers



Share Your Story

We want to hear from you! Tell us why advocacy for safe and supportive schools matters to you. You could have the chance to be featured in future blog posts, Our Children magazine articles or advocacy-related communications from National PTA!

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