With a political career spanning more than 20 years, S.C. House Rep. Jerry N. Govan Jr. (D-Orangeburg) has also spent most of his career working in the field of education.
For his commitment to education, Govan was presented the Friends of Education Award during the South Carolina Association of School Psychologists Fall Conference on Oct. 3.
“Throughout his career, Rep. Govan has shown an interest in education — most recently recognizing the need to highlight the importance of school safety and mental health,” said Dr. Lisa Lipscomb, president of SCASP.
Govan sponsored and facilitated the passage of House Bill 3365, now titled Act 252, which created a School Safety Task Force.
“For this action and for his dedication to the education of the whole child, SCASP is proud to present Rep. Govan with the SCASP Friends of Education Award,” she added.
Among his many professional roles, Govan has served as a parent educator, parenting and after-school coordinator for Orangeburg Consolidated School District Five as well as coordinator for the Orangeburg County dropout prevention program.
He is a graduate of South Carolina State University and of the U.S. Marine Corps Officer Candidate School.
Govan said he is elated and humbled to have received the recognition from SCASP.
“This great organization works tirelessly in our schools to provide much-needed services to our students,” he said. “The organization has played an integral role in working with our task force to ensure that the interests of our students are properly represented. I look forward to working closely with SCASP to improve the quality of life for all of our students across the state.”
The SCASP has representation on the task force, along with 12 other education, safety and mental health organizations, the Governor’s Office and four appointees of the House and the Senate.
The task force is charged with presenting a report to the General Assembly on ways to improve school safety and mental health by Jan. 1, 2015.
Lipscomb said through its recommendations, the task force has the opportunity to have substantial, positive effects on children’s safety and mental health.
Citing a 2013 South Carolina Youth Risk Behavior Survey, she noted that “at a time in which 9 percent of high school students and 9 percent of middle school students report having attempted suicide, this focus on both physical safety and mental health is vitally important.”
The task force met Tuesday at the Statehouse in Columbia to review a draft list of recommendations.
Among those recommendations are to increase the number of school resource officers and school psychologists in the state and for schools to practice more safety lock-down drills.
Another recommendation is that each school have a trained threat or risk assessment team made up of administrators, teachers, SROs and mental health professionals to try to prevent incidents by identifying people who might pose a danger.
The task force’s report is still just a draft.
Govan said the group wants public input at its next meeting on Nov. 6 at the Statehouse.
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Contact the writer: 803-533-5552