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Connecticut's merged school safety councils set to meet

Manchester Public Schools communications director Jim Farrell uses a speaker with a camera at the secure entryway to Verplanck Elementary School in Manchester, Connecticut, Feb. 24, 2022.
Joe Amon
Connecticut Public
Manchester Public Schools communications director Jim Farrell uses a speaker with a camera at the secure entryway to Verplanck Elementary School in Manchester, Connecticut, Feb. 24, 2022.

On Wednesday, Connecticut’s merged School Safety Infrastructure and School Building Projects Advisory councils will meet for the first time. It comes three months after Connecticut Public's Accountability Project found that the infrastructure council was not upholding its legislative mandate.

The infrastructure council was founded in 2013 in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting. The council was supposed to have 11 members who would set guidelines for school design. But in recent years the council was mostly dormant because some council members were not showing up.

In February, CT Public's Accountability Project reported the council had not reconsidered school safety design standards since at least 2018.

“I’m disappointed,” said former state Rep. Andy Fleischmann, who served as House chairman of the Education Committee  when the council was initially formed. “There is this natural human tendency to address a problem, and then to assume that you’re done. Right? And I think that that is probably what the state has fallen victim to here.”

While some legislators told us they didn’t know their appointees weren’t showing up, the Department of Administrative services said it wanted to merge the council with the School Building Projects Advisory Council because their work is complementary.

The merged council meets at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Its agenda includes new appointments and discussion of school safety infrastructure criteria.

Walter Smith Randolph is Connecticut Public’s Investigative Editor. In 2021, Walter launched The Accountability Project, CT Public’s investigative reporting initiative. Since then, the team’s reporting has led to policy changes across the state. Additionally, The Accountability Project’s work has been honored with a National Edward R. Murrow award from RTDNA, two regional Murrow awards, a national Sigma Delta Chi award from the Society of Professional Journalists, three regional EMMY nominations and a dozen CT SPJ awards.
Jim Haddadin is deputy editor for The Accountability Project, Connecticut Public's investigative reporting team. He was previously an investigative producer at NBC Boston, and wrote for newspapers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. His work at NBC received a regional Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio Television Digital News Association, and a pair of Emmy awards from the New England chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. He was also recognized by the Public Media Journalists Association, Society of Professional Journalists, New England Newspaper & Press Association, New Hampshire Press Association and Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists for political coverage, investigative reporting and stories about government transparency. When he's not working, Jim is doing whatever his dog wants.

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