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New state panel will focus on school safety

Governor Deval Patrick will announce a commission Thursday dedicated to addressing bullying and safety in schools, his office says.

Patrick, along with Secretary of Education Matthew Malone, Secretary of Public Safety and Security Andrea Cabral, and Secretary of Health and Human Services John Polanowicz, will announce the creation of the School Safety and Security Task Force .

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The task force will be charged with developing a model school response plan in the event of safety incidents or issues, with recommended procedures to be adopted in local school districts, said Rachael Neff, director of communications for the Executive Office of Education.

In addition, the group will develop requirements and recommendations for schools on preparing and updating safety plans, as well as site assessment protocols and procedures, Neff said.

The commission will suggest site safety improvement programs and draft school-based training and exercise programs.

Included on the task force will be representatives from the education, health and human services, and public safety sectors, who will work to develop a detailed school safety and security response plan, said Neff.

Massachusetts has introduced antibullying legislation in the past, following some high-profile tragedies.

After the 2010 suicide of 15-year-old Phoebe Prince, the Globe reported that South Hadley schools drafted an antibullying policy requiring staff members to report “any bullying they see or learn about.”

Jennifer Smith can be reached at jennifer.smith@globe.com.
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