Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: July 19, 2018
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Ofirah Yheskel, | Department of Criminal Justice Services: Jack Irvin,

Governor Northam Establishes Work Group on Student Safety

First meeting on Thursday, July 19 in Richmond; Group to provide recommendations to Governor by October 1

RICHMONDGovernor Ralph Northam today announced the formation of the Work Group on Student Safety. The work group will be co-chaired by Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran and Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. It is comprised of educators, school personnel, public safety officials, mental health practitioners, and community partners.

Executive Order 11, signed by Governor Northam in June, reestablished the Children’s Cabinet and instructed members to form a work group to make student safety recommendations. The full text of this executive order can be found here.

“Virginia’s proactive policy approach has empowered our schools to prepare for and respond to new and evolving challenges, establishing the Commonwealth as a national leader in school safety,” said Governor Northam. “I look forward to the recommendations from this group of experts on the opportunities to enhance protection of our schools, our communities, and our children.”

Members of the work group are tasked with making recommendations to the Governor on enhancing school safety by October 1, 2018. These recommendations will focus on the following areas: enhancing information sharing and the effectiveness of threat assessments teams; assessing the role, prevalence, and training of school resource and school security officers; evaluating existing ratios and staffing levels for school support staff; identifying opportunities to expand relevant training to a variety of school-based personnel; and consideration of other school-based programs or supports, including mental health supports, needed to secure the safety of all students.

The first meeting of the work group is scheduled for Thursday, July 19, 2018 from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM in the West Reading Room of the Patrick Henry Building in Richmond, Virginia.

“The members that have been assembled for this work group have devoted their careers to student safety,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. “The diverse range of backgrounds and expertise will provide critical perspectives as we address this issue.”

“In order to learn, students need an environment where they feel protected and supported,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “I look forward to working with this group of talented individuals to create recommendations that will help Virginia schools continue to be a place where families are confident their children will be safe, and where students feel safe and ready to learn.”

Work Group on Student Safety


  • Brian Moran, Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security
  • Atif Qarni, Secretary of Education


  • Donna Michaelis, Manager, Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety, Department of Criminal Justice Services
  • Lisa Floyd, Ed.D., Deputy Director of Education, Department of Juvenile Justice
  • Nicole Gore, Suicide Prevention Coordinator, Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Service
  • Ellen White, Retired Judge, 24th Judicial District Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts
  • Kelvin Wright, Chief of Police, City of Chesapeake Police Department
  • Benjamin Fernandez, Coordinator of Prevention Services, Loudoun County Public Schools
  • Tyrone Foster, President-Elect, Virginia School Board Association
  • Brian Hieatt, Sheriff, County of Tazewell
  • Mike Lawhorn, School Resource Officer, Campbell County Sheriff’s Office
  • Bobby Kipper, School Safety and Discipline Specialist, Department of Education
  • Patrick Stanfield, Ed.D., Principal, Midlothian Middle School
  • Stanley Jones, Ed.D., Superintendent, Danville Public Schools
  • Carol Medawar, Virginia Director, National Education Association
  • Fred Orelove, Ph.D., Co-Chair of Schools Committee, Greater Richmond Trauma Informed Community Network
  • Richard Ponti, Director of Safety and Loss Control, Virginia Beach Public Schools
  • Dolores Robison, Ph.D., Supervisor of Threat Assessment, Prince William County Public Schools
  • Cole Fairchild, Student, Charlottesville High School
  • Representative from the Virginia Parent Teacher Association

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