Taylor’s Safe School Advocate Bill Passes House
A bill sponsored by Rep. John Taylor (R-Philadelphia) to reintroduce the Safe Schools Advocate to Philadelphia’s public schools has unanimously passed the House.
“This is a major victory for the teachers, students and parents of the School District of Philadelphia,” Taylor said. “Philadelphia’s public schools are in crisis. This shows that the legislature understands that our students are endangered and need someone to stand for them.”
Taylor’s bill funds the Office of the Safe Schools Advocate for the School District of Philadelphia and reestablishes it under the purview of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
The Safe Schools Advocate Office was first established in 2001 after an extensive legislative investigation led by Taylor found an epidemic of unreported violent crimes against students and teachers in Philadelphia public schools. Taylor also helped write the Safe Schools Advocate Law.
The first of its kind in the nation, the office was placed under the Pennsylvania Department of Education to assist victims of school violence and monitor the Philadelphia School District’s compliance with the mandatory reporting of all violent incidents. The advocate also helped students, parents and teachers maneuver through the legal system.
The Rendell Administration closed the office in August 2009.
“The Rendell administration’s action was a violation of state law,” Taylor said. “It was an attempt to not only silence a watchdog, but also to control the legislatively mandated reports that exposed the true level of violence in our schools.”
Taylor believes placing the office under the Department of Education was a weakness in the law. His bill corrects this.
“By funding the office and placing it under the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, my bill gives it the necessary independence to perform its oversight duties and if necessary, force the school district’s compliance with all the provisions of the Safe Schools Act,” Taylor said.
The bill now moves to the Senate.
State Representative John Taylor
177th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: David Foster