States play a role in ensuring school safety, managing resources, and providing training, technical assistance, and guidance to local schools. As both the National Governors Association and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have found, “[S]chool safety responsibility typically rests with the SEA [state education agency]. State School Safety Centers (SSSCs) often manage those efforts, and exist in 48 out of 50 states and the District of Columbia, with some states operating multiple SSSCs.

According to the DOJ, 36 out of 56 SSSCs are located within state education agencies (SEAs), while the remainder are found in other state agencies and organizations, such as emergency management offices and universities. Other states that do not operate SSSCs situate individuals tasked with designing and overseeing school safety policies in state agencies

SSSCs perform the following services:

  • Conduct research and evaluations;
  • Share best practices with nearby states;
  • Work with local law enforcement;
  • Respond to school safety incidents;
  • Provide feedback on policy proposals;
  • Train school resource officers;
  • Develop emergency operations plans;
  • Undertake threat assessments; and
  • Help schools prepare for crises, including school shootings.

States and local school districts are on the front lines of providing school safety. However, several federal Department of Education programs provide additional funding sources supplementing state and local programs. The U.S. Department of Education funds school safety and mental health activities primarily through Title IV of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), most recently authorized as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), through two overarching programs:

  • The Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) Program; and
  • National School Safety Activities (which is comprised of several smaller programs).

Read the full article on state and federal efforts for school safety by Lindsey Burke at The Heritage Foundation