Newtown panel issues recommendations after school shooting

AP News
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Posted: Feb 12, 2015 12:41 PM

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A panel created by the governor after the deadly Newtown school shooting released a set of draft recommendations Thursday for improvements to school safety and changes to gun laws and the state's mental health care system.

The 256-page draft report from the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission was posted online. The panel appointed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy gathered input over more than two years from experts and others, including victims' family members. Members are expected to meet Friday to make modifications to the draft report and eventually present the final document to Malloy, possibly in early March.

Early in the report, commission members concede "no school can be totally free of the risk of violence," short of transforming them into gated, prison-like facilities. But the group recommends safe school design and operation strategies and closer coordination with law enforcement, mental health experts and security professionals as a way to help make safer school environments possible.

"Accomplishing these goals can actually improve the educational eco-system and create safe school climates that allow students, teachers and staff to flourish and excel," the report reads.

Some of the recommendations, especially those focusing on gun control, were included in an interim report in 2013 that called for ensuring classroom doors can be locked from the inside, limits on ammunition purchases and the registration of all firearms in the state.

Adam Lanza killed 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012 before killing himself. Questions about Lanza's mental state and his access to treatment prompted the commission to closely examine Connecticut's mental health system, which the draft report called "fragmented and underfunded" and "tainted by stigma."

The group is recommending the state build a system that goes beyond treating mental illness and fosters healthy families and individuals.