Pa. auditor general: Mental health services 'absolutely critical' for school safety

Report shows students care most about mental health, not arming teachers

Tony Romeo
August 27, 2018 - 5:01 pm
Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale discusses the school safety report at a Monday press conference in the Pennsylvania Capitol.

Tony Romeo | KYW Newsradio

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale agrees with school students and employees alike: Access to mental health is a top priority in making schools safer. 

DePasquale commented on the matter as he discussed the findings of a task force on school safety he created alongside Gov. Tom Wolf. 

The task force report was compiled after a listening tour of six diverse schools in different regions of the state, including the Technical College High School Pickering Campus in Phoenixville. DePasquale said from his perspective, one issue stood out.

"Every single student that we talked to privately and publicly all said mental health access was absolutely critical," he said.

Regardless of the setting — urban, suburban or rural — without fail, access to mental health services was the first concern raised, he added. 

While the task force heard a variety of opinions on the topic of guns, the overwhelming majority of people interviewed rejected the notion of arming teachers.

"School security should not rest in the hands of teachers," he said, adding that any armed officer in schools needs to be trained to deal with students, not just criminals. 

The state budget enacted in June includes $60 million for grants for schools to address safety issues.