Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., in partnership with the West Virginia Department of Education and the West Virginia University (WVU) Extension Service, will sponsor a symposium Saturday, May 4, to give educators the opportunity to voice their ideas on reducing aggression and promoting safety in West Virginia schools.

“The symposium will allow West Virginia teachers to discuss the positive steps under way to improve the safety of our schools as we strive to find innovative ways to bolster our school safety efforts. I commend the Department of Education and WVU for their proactive efforts on behalf of our young people,”Byrd said.

The Robert C. Byrd Symposium 2002,”School Violence: Continuing the Search for Solutions and Strategies that Work,”will be held at seven locations throughout West Virginia. Electronic classrooms in Beckley, Charleston, Keyser, Morgantown, Parkersburg, Shepherdstown and Wheeling will be linked electronically to allow educators at all of the sites to interact. Letters and registration forms have been sent to teachers at 900 schools throughout the state.

The symposium is the third in a series of symposia on school violence. In August 1999, Byrd and WVU President David C. Hardesty, Jr., first joined with state educators, students, community leaders and higher education researchers in a forum,”Building Safe Schools and Healthy Communities: The West Virginia Response.”The following spring, Byrd and Hardesty hosted the Youth Summit where students discussed their ideas and concerns about school safety. Ideas gathered during the first two forums culminated in the creation of several new strategies that directly or indirectly target school violence and aggression. The strategies include various character education programs and the School-wide Positive Behaviors Supports Program, which is being implemented in 42 pilot schools. The pilot program was initially funded through $100,000 Byrd added to a federal appropriations bill in 2000.

“West Virginia schools have ranked consistently among the safest in the nation. The challenge is to continually develop new strategies and approaches to safety so that our schools remain caring and safe places to learn and work,”Byrd said.

“WVU Extension is pleased to work with Senator Byrd and the state Department of Education on this important issue,”commented Dr. Larry Cote, WVU Associate Provost for Extension and Public Service.”Our faculty will facilitate the discussion and reports by educators at the sites and help school personnel as they seek to strengthen current safety programs.”

“The West Virginia Board of Education is committed to working with teachers and principals in creating safe learning environments in all schools across the state. West Virginia schools are among the safest and best places to learn in the nation,”said Dr. David Stewart, State Superintendent of Schools.

There is no registration fee to participate in the symposium, and each participant will receive $40 worth of school supplies and materials. Travel expenses will not be reimbursed.

More information about the symposium is available on the Internet Registrations should be returned to Valerie Westfall, 703 Knapp Hall, P.O. Box 6031, Morgantown, WV 26506 -6031, or by fax to Westfall at (304) 293-7599.