School administrators need more help from the federal government in planning for and responding to emergencies, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said at a hearing last week on school safety.
Rep. Thompson said during the May 17 hearing that school officials in his congressional district do not consider the federal government to be a resource for addressing those issues, according to a survey of administrators and others he commissioned last year.
Holly Kuzmich, the deputy chief of staff at the Department of Education, told the committee that the department was seeking to train state education officials in emergency management, so that they are better able to help districts.
Districts have taken steps to prepare for emergencies, such as developing emergency-management plans, but many such plans don’t align with federally recommended practices, Cornelia M. Ashby, the director of education issues at the Government Accountability Office, Congress’ investigative arm, told the panel.
For instance, many schools’ plans don’t include procedures for students in special education, she said. The GAO is preparing a report on school districts’ planning and preparedness for emergencies, scheduled to be completed in June.
A version of this article appeared in the May 23, 2007 edition of Education Week