Former Indiana official: State, federal leaders need to do more for school safety

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Jennifer McCormick, a former Indiana superintendent of public education, said state and federal leaders aren’t doing enough to help keep schools safe.

Her comments come one day after a gunman opened fire at a Texas elementary school and killed 19 students and two adults.

“People say this is unthinkable, well it’s not unthinkable at this point, it’s weekly,” McCormick told News 8 on Wednesday.

McCormick left the state job in January 2021. When asked if she believes drills help or hurt children, McCormick said, “I have been through the school safety academy. I was a teacher. I was a principal. I was a superintendent and then, obviously, state superintendent. We have to drill. So, it’s not something that anybody enjoys and it’s unfortunate that we’re at that point but we are so the drills remain necessary.”

However, McCormick said, even those efforts have not been enough to stop mass shootings from happening.

“We continue to drill. We continue to train. Our SROs (school resource officers) are amazing. Our law enforcement partners are amazing. We cannot do this alone. It is time for our lawmakers to be courageous and start helping us,” McCormick said.

Jody Madeira, a professor at Indiana University Maurer School of Law, said school shootings are much more than a political or Second Amendment issue. Madeira said mass shootings are a public health epidemic. “I think that the focus should be on broader based efforts to identify individuals who pose a threat. In Texas, you have to be 21 to buy a handgun, but you can be 18 to purchase a rifle. In addition, you know, there are states like New York that allow red flag law reports to be filed by school officials and administrators, and those are the people who come in contact with these individuals who may be most troubled.”

McCormick said if leaders don’t commit to serious change, she believes it’s time for new leaders.

“My concern is in this realm we are going backward, and schools are doing the best they can, and I don’t think there is one superintendent across the state of Indiana or across the nation that says, ‘We’ve figured this out. We don’t need your help.’ We all know we cannot do it alone. We need assistance,” McCormick said.