Education secretary eyes school safety without talking guns

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LAKEWOOD -

The Federal School Safety Commission, set up after the deadly shooting at a Florida high school, will hold its first public hearing Wednesday -- a day after Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos testified before the Senate, and Lakewood police arrested two children on weapons charges at an elementary school.

Senators grilled DeVos on whether the new commission is intentionally ignoring the role guns play in school violence.

"So you're studying gun violence, but you're not considering the role of guns?" asked a skeptical Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat.

"We are actually studying the role of school safety and how we can ensure our students are safe at school," DeVos replied.

Some members of the Senate Appropriations Committee said they were perplexed by that answer, because the commission formed in the wake of the February school shooting that left 17 dead in Parkland, Florida. And then on May 18, a gunman killed 10 in a school in Santa Fe, Texas. On May 25, two people were injured at an Indiana middle school.

DeVos told the committee that looking at the role of guns in school safety is not part of her charge. 

Instead, it's to "look at practices that are happening in states and some communities," she said.

"We have been charged with about 27 different items to look at and study and to raise up best practices on," the education secretary said.

Among those items was looking at how mentoring and counseling were helping with student behavior at a school in Maryland.

The commission is supposed to report its finding by the end of the year.

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