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Local principal appointed to serve on Governor’s school safety task force

By Meredith Machen, mmachen@wcyb.com
Published On: Jan 11 2013 08:25:25 PM CST
WASHINGTON COUNTY, Va. -

A Washington County, Virginia school administrator will be one of the 45 members taking part in Governor Bob McDonnell's school safety task force; offering his own suggestions to keep students here in our region and across the state safer.

For Patrick Henry High School Principal Keith Perrigan, the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut still weighs heavy on his mind.

"It was a terrible, terrible tragedy, and then you apply that 'what if it happened at my school?', and then you start putting faces and teachers and faces along with that," Perrigan said.

But now, this administrator has a chance to keep that violence far from his school and any school in Virginia by serving on Governor Bob McDonnell's school safety task force.    

"It's an honor first of all to be chosen to serve," Perrigan said. "I look forward to providing input."

Safety initiatives like video cameras are already in place at Patrick Henry High school, but Perrigan believes additional funding from the state can only help keep kids safer.

"Hopefully more funding for school resource officers and to provide more funding for facility upgrades," added Perrigan.

More collaboration with local agencies is also on his wish list.

These could all soon become state recommendations thanks to this task force; which parents said just makes common sense.

"It's something long overdue; long overdue," said Anita Lumpkin.

"Something needs to be done to keep the bad guys out of the schools," Virginia resident Robyn Barnes Cobb said.

Now the countdown is on to collaborate in Richmond to make schools the picture of safety.

"If we just bring one thing to the table that helps make a student safer, it's certainly worth the effort," Perrigan said.

Other members of this task force include police chiefs, students, college administrators, even a parent of a victim of the Virginia Tech massacre, among many others.

This group is expected to draft their initial recommendations for school safety no later than January 31.