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DRN Champions School Safety and Behavioral Health
July 17, 2013

On July 15 Sallie Lynagh, children’s team leader, Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania (DRN) testified before the House Select Committee on School Safety. In 2004, Ms. Lynagh authored a report on students with disabilities and school referrals to law enforcement. That analysis found that, though students with disabilities comprised at that time only 13 percent of the school population, they accounted for 24 percent of those referred by schools to local law enforcement. In some schools, more than 50 percent of students referred to the police were students with disabilities. While not dismissing the value of law enforcement to school safety, Ms. Lynagh offered testimony in support of more effective and evidence-based interventions and strategies available to schools including:

  1. Expand the availability of School Wide Positive Behavior Supports in Pennsylvania’s schools.
  2. Require specialized training of school resource officers.
  3. Require that the Departments of Education and Public Welfare enter into a memorandum of understanding to promote the coordinated delivery of a continuum of school-based behavioral health services.
  4. Require the Office of Safe Schools to analyze data on school referrals of students with disabilities to law enforcement and to make the data publicly available.

Ms. Lynagh is a frequent participant and collaborator in the work of the RCPA Children’s Committee.

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