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Governor Northam announces creation of the Virginia Founders Fund



~New seed investment fund that brings increased access to venture capital to Virginia’s underrepresented entrepreneurs~

RICHMOND – Governor Ralph Northam today announced the creation of the Virginia Founders Fund, a new seed-stage fund that increases access to venture capital in Virginia. The fund, administered by the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT), promotes further collaboration and support for regionally based innovation initiatives and increases investment opportunities for Virginia-based entrepreneurs traditionally underrepresented in venture capital.  The Virginia Founders Fund is dedicated to investments in minorities, women, and veterans across the Commonwealth, or other entrepreneurs located in regions outside of Northern Virginia.

“This investment fund will expand opportunities for startups throughout the Commonwealth, and place a priority on veteran, minority, and women-owned businesses,” said Governor Northam. “We are proud of Virginia’s diverse economy – geographically and demographically. The Virginia Founders Fund will make it easier for our budding entrepreneurs to find the backing they need, and help strengthen the Commonwealth’s position as a premier location for entrepreneurship and investment.”

CIT will work with regional startup initiatives, early-stage funds, and accelerator programs across the Commonwealth to identify strategic opportunities for investment and potential co-investment to leverage additional capital.  The fund will focus on software, hardware, life science, cleantech, and technology-enabled services startups with a high potential for growth and ability to generate economic returns for the Commonwealth.

“The Virginia Founders Fund will provide an excellent complement to the Commonwealth’s existing seed and grant investment programs, as well as to the growing number of regionally-based innovation initiatives. The CIT investment team has a proven history of investing in early stage technology startups, helping them grow and succeed in Virginia,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Esther Lee. “We are proud to announce the first pair of investments under this new fund – EdConnective, an instructional coaching service provider based in Richmond and Status Identity, a multi-factor adaptive authentication company based in Northern Virginia. We look forward to the bright futures of these companies and of future investments that will bring new waves of innovation, job creation, and economic growth to the Commonwealth.”

The Virginia Founders Fund will build upon the success of the Center for Innovative Technology’s GAP Fund program, which fills a critical role deploying early-stage investment capital to the next generation of Virginia’s innovative startups. CIT GAP Funds has deployed over $23 million in more than 120 Virginia-based companies since 2004, leveraging this investment to help the startups attract over $600+ million in additional private capital investment, mostly from out-of-state. Investment returns from CIT GAP Funds are being re-deployed into the Virginia economy in the form of the capital backing the Virginia Founders Fund investments.

“Congratulations to both the founders of EdConnective and Status Identity for closing the first investments in our new Virginia Founders Fund. We look forward to working with you both and watching you grow,” said Ed Albrigo, CIT President and CEO. “There are additional entrepreneurs across the Commonwealth that will benefit from this new source of capital and support that this new fund can provide. These entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to leverage funding at a critical stage in their development to compete in today’s competitive landscape. We look forward to working closely with startups, regional startup support initiatives and other private investment funds to provide increased investment and support to these underrepresented communities.”

State News

Tenth cargo resupply mission successfully launches to International Space Station from Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport



Antares raising vertical for launch. Photo: NASA / Bill Ingalls

RICHMOND—The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (Virginia Space), Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, and NASA Wallops Flight Facility celebrate a successful launch for cargo resupply to the International Space Station (ISS), which was also carrying student scientific experiments as part of the inaugural ThinSat Program. The mission, designated NG-11, occurred today at 4:46 p.m. from Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) Pad 0A located at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia.

The Antares rocket will boost an unmanned Cygnus spacecraft carrying an approximately 7,600-pound payload to the ISS, including 3,700 pounds of scientific investigations. The mission is launching or supporting more than 40 experiments designed to research such areas as cardiovascular health, Alzheimer’s, removal of atmospheric carbon dioxide, and exterior inspection of the space station by self-propelled cubesat robots.

Aboard the Cygnus spacecraft are ThinSats, small satellites that carry scientific experiments into space and are capable of transmitting data from low earth orbit. The satellites will be released during the second stage of the Antares rocket into Extreme Low Earth Orbit (ELEO) and students will be able to collect and analyze data relayed from their satellites for approximately five days before they deorbit and burn upon re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere. The student payload comprises roughly 50 percent of the ThinSat volume.

Virginia Space, in partnership with Twiggs Space Lab, Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, and NASA Wallops Flight Facility, created the ThinSat Program, a low-cost initiative to increase student engagement in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) related fields. Through this program, students have developed satellite hardware, tested sensor components with low and high altitude balloon flights, analyzed data, and with today’s inaugural ThinSat deployment, students have launched an actual payload into space. Over 50 middle schools, high schools, colleges, and universities participated in this program.

“Today’s mission is important for advancing research in a variety of disciplines such as medicine, aerospace, and astrophysics, and I am proud of the support and collaboration from all of our partners,” said Governor Northam. “The ThinSat initiative represents a critical investment in our future workforce and offers a tremendous opportunity to prepare young Virginians for careers in STEM fields, ensuring the Commonwealth remains at the forefront of science, innovation, and space exploration in the years to come.”

Launch pad modifications have recently been completed to accommodate the loading of time-sensitive experiments into the Cygnus spacecraft as late as 24 hours before liftoff, eliminating the previous four-day pre-loading requirement. This new late load capability expands the range of missions that can be launched from the MARS facility. MARS Pad 0A was built by the Commonwealth of Virginia to accommodate the Antares 230 medium-class liquid-fuel rocket and Cygnus spacecraft.

“The launch pad modifications to accommodate late load capability are yet another example of the world-class infrastructure and technology available at the MARS facility that are attracting customers for science, research, national security, and ISS cargo resupply missions,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “The partnership with schools across the Commonwealth and beyond is helping to build a local, skilled workforce by inspiring the next generation of engineers, scientists, and technicians that will manage this gateway to space.”

“Virginia Space is excited to support the new late load capability of MARS Pad 0A and partner with NASA Wallops Flight Facility to support our customer, Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems,” said Dale Nash, CEO and Executive Director of Virginia Space. “We are also anticipating the inaugural flight of the Virginia Space ThinSat Program. There has been significant investment over the last two years, and we’re pleased to see these efforts come to fruition.”

Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket is seen as it rolls out to Pad-0A, Monday, April 15, 2019 at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority is a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Virginia Space owns and operates the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), the MARS Unmanned Systems Test Range and is constructing the MARS Payload Processing Facility (PPF). Collocated on the NASA Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, the mission of Virginia Space and MARS is to provide low-cost, safe, reliable, “schedule-friendly” access to space and secure facilities for testing of unmanned vehicles for integration into the National Air Space. Virginia continues to play a key role in national security and assured access to space, as one of only four states in the United States hosting a spaceport licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to launch spacecraft into orbit or on interplanetary trajectories. For more information, visit the Virginia Space website.

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Governor Northam announces $600,000 in grants to upgrade Career and Technical Education Program equipment



RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced $600,000 in competitive grants to 16 high schools and technical centers to upgrade equipment for their career and technical education (CTE) programs. Each school or technical center will receive $37,500 to purchase new equipment and to make other necessary improvements.

“Technology is ever-changing, and our career and technical education programs must have the up-to-date equipment necessary to prepare Virginia students for the jobs of tomorrow, which includes industries like high-tech manufacturing, bioengineering, health care, and skilled trades,” said Governor Northam. “With this funding, we are making critical investments in our young people, giving them the tools and training they need to be competitive in our 21st-century economy.”

“Just like pencils, paper, and books, modern technology and equipment are necessary tools for providing high-quality and hands-on learning to students,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “These grants will support much-needed equipment upgrades which help facilitate excellent teaching and learning relevant to the needs of our local economies.”

The awards, by school division, are as follows:

• Alexandria — Governor’s Health Sciences Academy at T.C. Williams High School (hemocytometer and microcentrifuge equipment for processing DNA protein electrophoresis)
• Buchanan County — Buchanan County CTE Center (multi-virtual machine system for cybersecurity simulations)
• Buckingham County — Buckingham CTE Center (computer numerical control plasma cutting equipment)
• Franklin County — Franklin County High School (electronic HVAC simulation trainer)
• Henrico County — Highland Springs Technical Center (precision machining computer numerical control knee mill)
• Lynchburg — Lynchburg Regional Governor’s STEM Academy (automated robotics and mechatronic digital electronics equipment)
• Montgomery County — Governor’s STEM Academy at Christiansburg High School (advanced manufacturing equipment: waterjet cutting 3D printer and vibratory finishing chamber)
• Petersburg — Petersburg High School (interactive manikin patient simulator, vital signs monitor and electronic hospital beds)
• Prince Edward County — Prince Edward High School (interactive geriatric patient simulator)
• Spotsylvania County — Spotsylvania CTE Center (interactive anatomy simulator)
• Stafford County — North Stafford High School (virtual augmented reality interactive learning lab)
• Staunton — Robert E. Lee High School (virtual augmented reality interactive learning lab)
• Suffolk — Pruden Technical Center (heavy equipment operator training simulator)
• Virginia Beach — Advanced Technology Center (virtual reality arc welding system)
• Warren County — Blue Ridge Technical Center (computer numerical control machining and electric motor control learning system)
• Washington County — Washington County CTE Center (computer numerical control plasma cutting equipment)

“CTE programs prepare students for career opportunities in fields that are important to their communities,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane. “Replacing outdated equipment and purchasing the technology needed to support instruction in new career pathways are essential for CTE programs to remain relevant and ensure that graduates are ready for the 21st-century workplace.”

The competitive grant program was approved by the 2016 General Assembly, with the first grants to schools and technical centers awarded in 2017.

The grant program gives priority to challenged schools, Governor’s STEM Academies, and Governor’s Health Science Academies.

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Governor Northam announces third series in “The Walking Dead” franchise to film in Virginia



RICHMOND—Governor Northam today announced that the third series in AMC’s The Walking Dead franchise will film its debut season in Virginia. The series will follow in the footsteps of the popular AMC program The Walking Dead, now in its ninth season, and the current offshoot series Fear the Walking Dead, which both rank among the most-watched cable series on television.

Production of the ten episode series will begin in Central Virginia this summer. The show will be the second AMC series to film in the Commonwealth, following the critically acclaimed Revolutionary War spy drama TURN: Washington’s Spies, which filmed four seasons in Virginia from 2013–2017.

The series will feature two young female protagonists and focus on the first generation to come-of-age in the franchise’s apocalyptic realm.

“We are delighted to welcome AMC back to Virginia,” said Governor Northam. “The series will provide high-paying jobs for our skilled workers and will invite economic opportunity for Virginia businesses large and small. Uniquely, the series also brings with it a devoted global fan-base, creating immeasurable added value for the Commonwealth as the franchise’s powerful spotlight shines on Virginia.”

“The film production industry is a fast-growing sector of the Virginia economy with an annual total economic impact of almost $862 million in 2017,” said Brian Ball, Secretary of Commerce and Trade. “During their time here, AMC’s TURN had a total economic impact of over $217 million in the Commonwealth, and this series marks the next chapter in a beneficial partnership between AMC and Virginia.”

“The Walking Dead franchise has one of the largest audiences on television today,” said Andy Edmunds, director of the Virginia Film Office. “This is no small feat considering the current content-rich climate, where viewers have thousands of options from which to choose. As home to the latest installment, Virginia will have access to this built-in, passionate audience and a tremendous film tourism opportunity. The Walking Dead’s original filming location, rural Senoia, Georgia, saw explosive economic growth thanks to thousands of tourists per year visiting to get a glimpse of filming sites. With Virginia already a wonderful place to visit and vacation, we are in the ultimate position to capitalize on this lucrative added tourism draw.”

The third Walking Dead series will be eligible to receive a Virginia film tax credit. The exact amount will be based on the number of Virginia workers hired, Virginia goods and services purchased, and deliverables including Virginia tourism promotions.

The Virginia Film Office is part of the Virginia Tourism Corporation, the state agency charged with marketing the state of Virginia. Tourism is an instant revenue generator in Virginia. In 2017, visitors spent $25 billion, supporting 232,000 jobs and contributing $1.73 billion in state and local taxes.

For information about Virginia’s film production industry, please visit the Virginia Film Office website at

For information about Virginia tourism, please visit

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State News

Service of Virginia’s Vietnam veterans honored during special ceremony



RICHMOND—Today, March 29, 2019, Governor Ralph Northam paid tribute to Virginia’s Vietnam War veterans at a special ceremony held at the Sitter & Barfoot Veterans Care Center in Richmond, Virginia. The ceremony was hosted by the Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS), which operates the care center, and coincides with National Vietnam War Veterans Day.

The Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017 permanently designates that every year March 29 will be celebrated as National Vietnam War Veterans Day. Governor Northam issued a proclamation designating March 29 as Vietnam War Veterans Day in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It was on March 29, 1973, when combat and combat support units withdrew from South Vietnam.

“On this day, Virginians join Americans across the nation to celebrate and honor our Vietnam War veterans, who stepped up and answered the call to serve,” said Governor Northam. “As a proud veteran myself, I am grateful for the service and sacrifice of these brave men and women, and for their continuing contributions to this country and this Commonwealth.”

At today’s ceremony, Governor Northam awarded an official Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pin to 88 Sitter & Barfoot residents. Distinguished guests included Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Carlos Hopkins; Brigadier General Jeffrey Ryan, Air Component Commander, Virginia National Guard; Commissioner Ellen Marie Hess of the Virginia Employment Commission; and Mr. J. Ronald Johnson, Director of the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center.

“Today, and every day, our Vietnam veterans should receive the recognition they earned and deserve,” said Secretary Carlos Hopkins.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 9 million Americans served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces during the period of the Vietnam War. Today there are 6.4 million living Vietnam veterans. Virginia is home to 720,000 veterans, approximately 200,000 of whom served during the Vietnam War era.

At the national level, efforts to honor and thank Vietnam Veterans are led by The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration. The Commemoration is a program of the Department of Defense whose mission is to honor all United States veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces from November 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975, regardless of location. Government agencies, veterans’ organizations, and community groups serve as Commemorative Partners, conducting events such as the Sitter & Barfoot ceremony to recognize the service, valor, and sacrifice of Vietnam veterans and their families.

“The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration called on Commemorative Partners to place a special focus this year, and especially today on National Vietnam War Veterans Day, on reaching Vietnam veterans in senior care facilities. Today’s ceremony is part of Virginia’s ongoing efforts to recognize our Vietnam veterans,” said DVS Commissioner John Newby. “The Virginia Department of Veterans Services, the Virginia National Guard, the Virginia Employment Commission, and the McGuire VA Medical Center are proud to be official Commemorative Partners of the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration, and we are honored to have this opportunity to pay tribute to our Vietnam veterans.”

About the Virginia Department of Veterans Services
The Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS) is a state government agency with more than 40 operating locations across the Commonwealth of Virginia. DVS traces its history to 1928 and the establishment of the Virginia War Service Bureau to assist Virginia’s World War I veterans. Today, DVS assists veterans and their families in filing claims for federal veterans benefits; provides veterans and family members with direct linkages to services including behavioral healthcare, housing, employment, education and other programs; operates two long-term care facilities offering in-patient skilled nursing care, Alzheimer’s/memory care, and short-term rehabilitative care for veterans; provides an honored final resting place for veterans and their families at three state veterans cemeteries; and operates the Virginia War Memorial, the Commonwealth’s monument to honor the memory and sacrifice of Virginia’s men and women who served and fought to defend our way of life from World War II to the present. For more information, please visit

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Governor Northam signs major foster care legislation and announces launch of Virginia Fosters Campaign



RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam ceremonially signed legislation to improve Virginia’s foster care system. Joined by a bipartisan group of legislators, government officials, and leaders from the business and faith communities, Governor Northam also helped kick off Virginia Fosters, a statewide campaign that empowers Virginians to be the solution for children, families, and workers in the Commonwealth’s child welfare system.

“Every child in our Commonwealth deserves to grow up healthy, safe, and in a loving family that supports them through school, a career, and in following their dreams,” said Governor Northam. “We have made tremendous strides in improving our foster care system with this legislation, but we also know that the challenges we have did not come about overnight and cannot be solved in one General Assembly Session or by government alone. Each one of us has a role to play in giving Virginia’s most vulnerable children an opportunity to grow and thrive.”

Senate Bill 1339, sponsored by Senator Bryce Reeves, makes clear state and local authority for foster care services, placement, and removal decisions, improves the case review and oversight process, and creates a new state position to oversee foster care health and safety.

Senate Bill 1679, sponsored by Senator Monty Mason, and House Bill 2014, sponsored by Delegate Chris Peace, aligns the Code of Virginia with the Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018, which provides prevention services for kids at risk of entering foster care services and their families.

Senate Bill 1720, sponsored by Senator Monty Mason, and House Bill 2758, sponsored by Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy, requires local departments of social services to take all reasonable steps in a foster care placement to determine whether a child has any relatives who may be eligible to become a kinship foster parent, provide notice to those relatives, and explain to them the opportunities they may have to participate in placement and care of the child.

Senate Bill 1139, sponsored by Senator Barbara Favola, and House Bill 1728, sponsored by Delegate David Reid, encourages post-adoption contact and communication with birth parents.

House Bill 2108, sponsored by Delegate Richard Bell, establishes a dispute resolution process through which a foster parent may contest an alleged violation of regulations.

Senate Bill 1253, sponsored by Senator Bryce Reeves, and House Bill 1730, sponsored by Delegate Emily Brewer, requires local departments of social services to request the placement of a security freeze on the credit report or record of any child who has been in foster care for at least six months.

“I could not be more proud to have this legislation signed into law today,” said Senator Bryce Reeves. “We are putting our Commonwealth’s most vulnerable children first and raising the bar for other states to do the same.”

“When we take children from their parents, we have a responsibility to keep them safe, healthy, and with a brighter future,” said Senator Janet Howell. “Too often, Virginia has failed these, our children. The problems with Virginia’s foster care system are largely fixable. We are determined to fix them. The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission staff provided us the impetus and guidance we need.”

“The Families First Prevention Services Act offers Virginia a chance to make historic reforms to help keep kids out of the foster care system,” said Delegate Chris Peace. “I’m proud to be part of a bipartisan effort to ensure we are doing everything we can to protect some of our Commonwealth’s most vulnerable children.”

“The report provided to us on the condition of our foster care system was sobering, and the Virginia legislature tackled the problems listed with the help of members from across the state and across the aisle,” said Senator Monty Mason. “For the first time ever we have dollars to put toward preventative services to keep families together. We have a plan to create better outcomes for children who enter the foster care system. While the foster care system always needs improvement, we have made incredible strides with the legislation that is being signed into law today.”

“As a foster mother for nearly a decade, I have seen children’s lives transformed by having a safe, nurturing home,” said Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy. “My bill promotes kinship foster care which enables relatives to safely care for foster children. Kinship foster care maintains important family connections, minimizes trauma, improves behavioral and mental health outcomes, and increases permanency for abused and neglected children.”

“As someone who grew up in foster care at the United Methodists Children’s Home in Richmond, I am committed to reforming this system for the better,” said Delegate David Reid. “The work of the 2019 session was just the beginning of our effort to help those children in Virginia who need us most.”

“Starting July 1, local departments of social services will be required to notify the appropriate community service boards (CSBs) when a child in the foster care system has a developmental disability,” said Senator Barbara Favola. “This notification will enable the CSB to screen the child for placement on the statewide developmental disability waiver list in enough advance time to ensure a smooth transition from the foster care system. I am pleased that this requirement will ease the transition for children in foster care who need developmental disability waiver placements upon leaving the system.”

“Children placed in foster care are among the most vulnerable in our communities,” said Delegate Richard ‘Dickie’ Bell. “These children need stable and loving environments and thousands of foster parents open their homes each year and provide just that. House Bill 2108 ensures that there is a mechanism for foster parents to add their voice to ongoing conversations about the safety and well-being of these children and creates a more transparent process centered around communication and collaboration of all parties with the child’s needs at the forefront.”

“Children in foster care are disproportionately more vulnerable to having their identity stolen and their credit history damaged,” said Delegate Emily Brewer. “House Bill 1730, my foster care credit freeze measure, will provide identity theft protections for children currently in foster care and also ensure those aging out of foster care start their future without the fear of financial peril.”

Virginia Fosters coordinates leaders in the government, faith, non-profit, business and creative communities at the “grass tops” level and engages Virginians from all walks of life at the grassroots level to address the challenges inherent in the child welfare system. Not everyone can foster or adopt, but everyone can do something to be the solution.

“The Virginia Fosters campaign offers us an opportunity to come together, no matter where we live, or what we do, to actively be part of the solution for kids in need of loving, supportive, and stable homes,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources Daniel Carey, M.D. “Whether it be providing wrap-around support for foster families, supporting local social workers, or helping young adults who have recently aged out of the system, there are meaningful ways for us all to be involved, even if we are unable to become a foster parent ourselves.”

Virginia Fosters is based in part on a successful model run in Virginia in 2013 and in Colorado starting in 2005, focused mostly on recruiting adoptive families. That work was enhanced and accelerated in Oklahoma and Tennessee in recent years, resulting in significant increases in the number of foster families recruited in those states.

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the number of children in foster care across our nation has continued to rise—from 396,000 in September 2012 to 443,000 in September 2016. On average, nearly 2,700 children enter Virginia’s foster care system each year. Thirty-eight percent of these children are teenagers and 60 percent are siblings. As the number of children entering care continues to rise, a growing demand is created for foster parents. When a relative cannot be identified, foster parents provide temporary placement until the child can be successfully reunified or permanency is achieved. Nationally, relatives care for 32 percent of children in foster care. However, in Virginia, less than 10 percent children are placed in relative foster homes.

Most often, children enter care having experienced multiple, complex problems within their home environment. Ensuring a safe, stable, and supportive environment as these children navigate through temporary displacement is critical to their health and well-being and is a priority of the child welfare system.

“As human service professionals, children are among those we strive hardest to protect. We need the help of relatives and foster parents in facilitating the supports children need as they struggle to overcome adverse situations,” said Virginia Department of Social Services Commissioner Duke Storen. “These are Virginia’s children, and they deserve our best efforts. Working together, we can help better support the success of the child, parent, and their family as a whole.”

For more information on the Virginia Fosters campaign, visit

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Governor Northam vetoes legislation creating ill-defined “School Protection Officers”



RICHMOND—Governor Northam vetoed House Bill 2142, which would allow for the creation of school protection officers, a new type of officer with undefined duties and indeterminate training. Virginia law already provides for school resource officers and school security officers, two types of officers with well-defined duties and stringent, uniform training standards. The Governor’s full veto statement is below.

March 26, 2019
Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto House Bill 2142, which creates school protection officers, a new type of officer who would be permitted to operate in public schools. According to this bill, school protection officers would be employees of a local law enforcement agency and would provide “limited law enforcement and security services” in public schools. The bill further provides that the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) would develop training standards for school protection officers and that such training may be provided by the employing law enforcement agency and would be graduated based upon the duties performed.

Virginia law already provides for two types of officers to protect the safety of the Commonwealth’s students and schools: school resource officers and school security officers. School resource officers and school security officers have well-defined duties and responsibilities set forth in the Code of Virginia and are required to meet stringent training standards that are administered uniformly through the DCJS certification process. In stark contrast, the bill neither delineates what duties school protection officers would be authorized to perform nor defines the “limited” law enforcement services to be provided by school protection officers.

In addition, the bill gives DCJS the impossible task of developing training standards for an officer whose duties are undefined and could vary significantly depending on the employing local law enforcement agency. Further, as the bill enables the local law enforcement agency employing the school protection officer to conduct the officer’s training, such training would not be subject to the same level of oversight as the training of school resource officers or school security officers.

The inadequacy of the bill’s provisions regarding school protection officer training is especially concerning in light of the Governor’s Student Safety Work Group recommendation to increase training for school resource officers. The General Assembly’s endorsement of the position that more, not less, training will better serve Virginia’s students and schools is reflected in its passage of House Bill 2609 and Senate Bill 1130, both of which mandate that all school resource officers undergo increased training.

Allowing a new type of officer with undefined duties and indeterminate training will not serve to make Virginia’s students and schools safer. Therefore, there is no compelling reason to create school protection officers when Virginia law already provides for two types of trained officers to provide security in the Commonwealth’s schools.

Accordingly, I veto this bill.
Ralph S. Northam

SUMMARY AS PASSED HOUSE: (all summaries)
School protection officers; minimum training standards; exemption. Defines a school protection officer as a retired law-enforcement officer hired on a part-time basis by the local law-enforcement agency to provide limited law-enforcement and security services to Virginia public elementary and secondary schools. The bill also provides that the Department of Criminal Justice Services shall establish compulsory minimum training standards for all persons employed as school protection officers and that such training may be provided by the employing law-enforcement agency and shall be graduated and based on the type of duties to be performed.

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