Virginia school safety task force members named

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Gov. Bob McDonnell on Wednesday named the members of a newly created panel tasked with reviewing school policies and procedures, as well as funding and resource challenges, to ensure the safety of students and educators in their classrooms.

The 45-member Task Force of School and Campus Safety, created following the Connecticut elementary school shooting, includes state and local leaders, lawmakers, public safety experts, mental health practitioners, educators, parents and students.

McDonnell named Secretary of Public Safety Marla Decker, Secretary of Education Laura Fornash, and Secretary of Health and Human Resources Bill Hazel to co-chair the panel.

Other members of the task force include: Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia State Police Superintendent Col. W. Steven Flaherty and Allen Hill, the father of Rachael Hill, one of 32 people killed the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech.

"I am thankful that this dedicated group of leaders and experts has agreed to work on the important issue of keeping our schools safe," McDonnell said in a news release announcing the panel members. "We must evaluate safety in our schools and ensure that we are providing our young people with the best opportunity to learn."

The panel, which is set to hold its first meeting on Jan. 14 in Richmond, will provide legislative and budget proposals. The governor's office said the task force will offer initial recommendations by the end of January. It also will make additional recommendations on an ongoing basis and submit a final report by the end of June so that recommended actions can be implemented before the new school year begins.