Nearly four dozen people -- including several locals -- have been named to a Virginia panel reviewing school policies and procedures. The panel will also review funding and resource challenges, to ensure the safety of students and educators.

Gov. Bob McDonnell named the members of the Task Force of School and Campus Safety on Wednesday. It includes state and local leaders, lawmakers, public safety experts, parents and students.

McDonnell created the panel following the Connecticut elementary school shooting. It will provide initial safety-related legislative and budget proposals by the end of January and submit a final report by the end of June.

The 45-member panel will be co-chaired by Secretary of Public Safety Marla Decker, Secretary of Education Laura Fornash, Secretary of Health and Human Resources Bill Hazel.

Its first meeting is set for Jan. 14.

The local members include Leonard Steward (Lexington City School Board), Sheriff Brian Hieatt (Tazewell County), Joel Branscom (Botetourt County Commonwealth’s Attorney), Gene Deisinger (Deputy Chief and Director of Threat Management at Virginia Tech), Allen Hill (father of Virginia Tech shooting victim Rachel Hill), Alexa Rennie (James River High School student), and Jillian McGarrity (Lynchburg College student).

Here is the news release and rest of the members:

Governor Bob McDonnell today announced the membership of his newly-created Task Force of School and Campus Safety.  The membership includes educators, public safety experts, local leaders, mental health practitioners, legislators, parents, and students.  The group will review school safety, including established policies and procedures, crisis and emergency management plans, threat assessment protocols, as well as share best practices and identify resource challenges. This task force will also provide legislative and budget proposals to the governor to address any critical gaps or needs associated with safety and security in our schools and on our campuses.

Speaking about the membership, Governor McDonnell said, “I am thankful that this dedicated group of leaders and experts has agreed to work on the important issue of keeping our schools safe.  As a Commonwealth, we must evaluate safety in our schools and ensure that we are providing our young people with the best opportunity to learn.  I am confident this group will develop thoughtful recommendations that will ensure a safe learning environment for our students.”

On Monday, December 20, Governor McDonnell issued Executive Order 56establishing a multidisciplinary task force to review school and campus safety in light of the horrific and senseless murders that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. He has also established a separate mental health workgroup chaired by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. Bill Hazel. The task force will send initial recommendations no later than January 31, 2013. It will make additional recommendations on an ongoing basis and provide a final report on all aspects of the executive order to the governor no later than June 30, 2013, so that recommended actions can be implemented before the new school year begins.

The Task Force will hold its first meeting on January 14th, at 1:00 PM, in the Patrick Henry Building in Richmond.

Governor's Task Force on School and Campus Safety



The Honorable Marla Decker, Secretary of Public Safety
The Honorable Laura Fornash
, Secretary of Education
The Honorable Bill Hazel, M.D.
, Secretary of Health and Human Resources