WASHINGTON – Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., Tuesday issued the following statement in response to a report released by the Government Accountability Office on emergency management planning in the nation’s public schools:
“GAO’s report underscores the fact that we are not nearly at the level of planning preparedness that’s necessary to keep our schools safe. One-quarter of school districts across the country have never trained with first responders, and more than two-thirds do not regularly train with community partners in executing emergency plans. Particularly troubling is the failure to ensure the safety of special needs students in an emergency – 28 percent of school emergency plans have no accommodations for their needs. This is alarming.
“The report also highlights the vast inconsistencies across the nation due to the limited federal role in emergency management planning. In many school districts, there is little coordination with state, local and federal officials to standardize emergency procedures, and for some districts, there is no standardization whatsoever. We need to consider a larger role for the federal government in helping schools plan and prepare for emergencies.”