Leaders of the General Assembly are creating a special committee to address school safety in the wake of the latest Colorado school shooting.
Legislative leaders announced the joint resolution Friday afternoon. The eight-member committee will meet at least three times to look at existing laws aimed at protecting schools from violence, and look at ways to evaluate and monitor students who might be at risk of being violent. Their work could inform legislation in next year's session.
The committee will be appointed by June 1, and each chamber will appoint four members, two from each party.
The resolution cites the May 7 shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch, including the heroism of 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo, who was shot and killed when he tackled on of the shooters.
“As a parent, I am concerned about the toll incidents of violent and tragic school shootings have on our children and communities,” House Speaker KC Becker, D-Boulder, said in a statement. “We must do more to help examine and address this crisis, so this committee will study this critical issue over the interim and report back to the legislature on what they've learned and what solutions may be found.”
House Republican leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock was a student at Columbine High School on the day students were killed there 20 years ago.
“Clearly we can do more to protect our children and our schools from these violent attacks,” he stated Friday. “We began the process last year by providing financial assistance to schools to secure their facilities and fund trained personnel to enhance physical protection. We’ve also provided funding to enable professionals to come alongside students to assist with their personal needs should tragedy strike. We will do more.”
Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo, said school shootings were too familiar to Colorado.
"And it is clear that we all have a responsibility to do more to prevent these horrible tragedies,” he said in the joint press release. “Legislators cannot make the necessary changes alone, which is why we will convene this interim study committee, with representation from law enforcement, educators and other stakeholders, to develop the right policies for Colorado.”
Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert, R-Douglas County, said the committee would look at the current system first.
“There are 178 school districts in Colorado that operate under local control per our state constitution," he said. "We also have voluminous state statute already on the books regarding emergency response planning and armed security in our public schools. This interim committee will begin its work by reviewing those statutes, the division of constitutional authority between school districts and state government, and then they will move forward on proposing solutions to better protect students.”