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Connecticut State Department of Education News


CT Education Commissioner Wentzell Selected For National School Safety Steering Committee  

(HARTFORD, CT) –– The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) announced today that state Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell will join 11 other state education chiefs to lead CCSSO’s newly formed School Safety Steering Committee to work toward creating safe and supportive school environments for all students. The Steering Committee will identify promising best practices for preventing school violence and determine what guidance or support CCSSO will offer to states around school safety. 

“As a lifelong educator, I know that we need to take a well-rounded, comprehensive approach to fostering a positive climate in our schools in which students and staff feel ready to learn and teach, and—above all—safe and secure. We can achieve this through a number of measures such as utilizing school-based health and wellness centers that support the social emotional well-being of students and making smart investments in infrastructure upgrades that ensure schools remain welcoming places and not fortresses,” said Commissioner Wentzell. “I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Steering Committee to shift the national focus on school safety to where it belongs: increased social-emotional learning, greater access to mental health services and a commitment to restorative practices.”

The Steering Committee will identify, share and explore state-based policies and practices on an array of school safety issues—from the security of facilities to provision of mental health and counseling services to the integration of instruction that addresses students’ social, personal and emotional needs. In addition, the Steering Committee will guide CCSSO in developing additional resources on ways in which state education agencies can work with stakeholders and communities to create safer, more supportive school environments for all children.

Under the leadership of Governor Dannel P. Malloy, Connecticut has made strides toward making schools safer by implementing some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, which include a ban on buying assault weapons, new eligibility rules for the purchase of ammunition, a prohibition on the sale or purchase of magazines carrying more than 10 rounds and the requirement for universal background checks. The state has also championed measures to increase focus on school-based diversion initiatives to reduce juvenile justice involvement among youth with mental health needs and has committed over 50 million dollars in grants to improve security infrastructure at schools without compromising the learning environment.

The full membership of CCSSO’s School Safety Steering Committee:

  • Elsie Arntzen, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Montana
  • Jillian Balow, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Wyoming
  • Brenda Cassellius, Commissioner of Education, Minnesota
  • Tony Dearman, Director, Bureau of Indian Education
  • Michael Johnson, Commissioner of Education and Early Development, Alaska
  • Christina Kishimoto, Superintendent of Education, Hawaii
  • Lamont Repollet, Commissioner of Education, New Jersey
  • Pedro Rivera, Secretary of Education, Pennsylvania
  • Karen Salmon, State Superintendent of Schools, Maryland
  • Pam Stewart, Commissioner of Education, Florida
  • Dianna Wentzell, Commissioner of Education, Connecticut
  • Ryan Wise, Director of Education, Iowa

To learn more about work currently underway in states visit:

Twitter: CT State Department of Education Twitter
Facebook: CT State Department of Education Facebook

Peter Yazbak
Communications Director