Arizona Statement on School Safety

Author: Vince Roig, Founding Chairman, & Paul J. Luna, President and CEO

March 16, 2018

As a foundation focused on education and student success in Arizona and Florida, we have been deeply moved by the tragic events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who are mourning and we send our deepest condolences.  We also hold the students who have returned to school close in our thoughts as they work through their grief and start on the path toward healing.   

Helios Education Foundation exists for one sole purpose – to help foster student success.  We are steadfast in our commitment to do everything we can to provide opportunities for students in Arizona and Florida to succeed.  The events of February 14 are a sobering reminder that our students’ ability to succeed is impacted, not only by the quality of their teacher or the strength of their curriculum, but also  by whether they are safe and secure during the school day. 

There has been much conversation over the past few weeks about how to keep our students safe in the classroom.  Recently, the Florida legislature and Governor Scott enacted some very significant bi-partisan school safety measures through the passage of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act.  The impact of student voices into this conversation has been inspiring and has led to swift action.

We know that similar conversations are happening here in Arizona.  Our elected leaders are grappling with the difficult issues surrounding school safety and providing support and interventions for students who may become violent.  While there are passionate opinions on all sides of this issue, the fact is that when talking about guns in classrooms and keeping our students safe, we should ask those who will be directly affected – the teachers.     

For most of us, being responsible for the lives of numerous children in a classroom is a theoretical situation.  But, for teachers, it is the reality they face every day.   We need to get their perspective on school safety issues.   We believe teachers and school personnel should be involved in developing recommendations for how to improve safety in Arizona’s schools.   Their voices and opinions should be carefully considered.   We hope that no Arizona school ever faces the horror that Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School faced on February 14.  But, if one does, it will be the teachers standing in front of our students.  They deserve to be heard.    

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