NASP Influence on Efforts to Reduce Violence and Improve School Safety

By: Kelly Vaillancourt Strobach, Ph.D., NASP Director of Government Relations

NASP Influence on Efforts to Reduce Violence and Improve School Safety

Over the last several weeks, policymakers, educators, families, and school psychologists have been involved in conversations about how to improve school safety and reduce school and community violence.  These conversations are happening in individual schools, local school districts, in state legislatures and state departments of education, and in Federal agencies and within Congress. This blog summarizes some of the current happenings at the Federal level and we hope to soon feature examples of state level work in the coming weeks.  In all instances, school psychologists, and NASP have been at the forefront of these conversations.  NASP has developed a number of statements and policy documents, including some talking points and infographics, that have helped influence policy and practice discussions at all levels. You are encouraged to use these in your advocacy work as well.  A few key resources include: 

Federal Investment in School Safety Our advocacy has paid off at the Federal level. This afternoon the House passed an omnibus spending bill that includes many NASP priorities and reflects an understanding of the value of school psychologists. Importantly, this bill includes $1.1 Billion dollars for Title IV-A of ESSA. This program was given a $700 million increase, which is a big deal in today's fiscal environment. These funds can be used to increase access to school psychologists and school psychological services, as well as help schools implement evidence based efforts to improve school climate, school safety, prevent violence, and offer a well-rounded curriculum. You can read NASP's statement here. In addition to increased funding for school health and safety, this legislation also directs the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study on the use of seclusion and restraint in schools, and funds the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.  This funding bill only covers FY18 and it will be imperative that we advocate for these same investments for FY19.  In the coming weeks we will be asking you to call and write your members of Congress to once again make the case for increased investments in these critical programs.

Although most of the bill is good news, NASP was disappointed to see that funds for the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative were repurposed for the STOP School Violence Act.  The Comprehensive School Safety Initiative is intended to help build the evidence base around what makes schools safety through research and implementation grants.  NASP remained neutral on the STOP Act due to concerns that this program placed too great an emphasis on the role of physical security and reporting systems without consideration for the importance of school based professionals (including school psychologists) who must be available to meet the needs of all students, including those who are identified via an early warning system, an anonymous reporting system, or other mechanisms to identify at risk students.  We remain hopeful that these funds will be used to implement evidence based efforts to prevent school violence and avoid the implementation of overly physical security measures.

Federal School Safety Commission Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is chairing a Federal School Safety commission comprised of four Cabinet secretaries (Education Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Justice.)  This is not what many envisioned this commission to look like; we had hoped for it to be a group of school safety experts, educators, practitioners, and parents.   According to remarks Secretary DeVos made at a recent National PTA conference, there will be several national feedback forums and multiple opportunities for expert input.  NASP has been in communication with officials in the Department of Education and we are reaching out to the other agencies to share NASP resources (like the Framework for Safe and Successful Schools)   and connect them with school safety experts.  In the meantime, if you wish to share resources or information for the commission to consider- you can send it to

NASP Briefing NASP will be hosting a Congressional Briefing in collaboration with the National Association of Secondary School Principals in April.  This briefing will highlight the role that school principals, teachers, school psychologists and other professionals play in creating a safe and supportive learning environment. It is our hope that this event will be livestreamed so that school psychologists and other educators across the country can attend virtually. Thank you for your advocacy and all you do every day to help create safe and supportive learning environments for students.  Please reach out with any questions! (