Gov. Snyder makes initial appointments to the School Safety Task Force

Published: Jun. 7, 2018 at 3:29 PM EDT
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Gov. Rick Snyder announced the initial appointments to the School Safety Task Force.

The task force was created by Executive Order 2018-5 to advise the Governor and the Michigan State Police by identifying structural and policy recommendations for collaboration, planning and assessment of school infrastructure and safety policies. Additionally, the task force will analyze top performing states to determine best practices for law enforcement and preventative policies. The task force is chaired by MSP Director Colonel Kriste Kibbey Etue and includes the state school superintendent, director of the Department of Health and Human Services, and 10 appointees. The task force will submit a final report to the Governor and Legislature no later than Nov. 30, 2018.

“I thank these individuals for taking on the difficult task of determining the best preventative policies for schools here in Michigan,” Snyder said. “Their time and work will help protect Michigan students, teachers and schools for years to come.”

Bishop Cory Chavis of Canton is the founder and senior pastor of Victory Community Church campuses in Detroit and Westland. Chavis also is the school leader of culture at the Detroit Leadership Academy Middle and High School in Detroit. He holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Detroit and a master’s degree in business from Ashford University in Iowa. He will represent parents.

Nicholas Dent of Marshall is a Spanish teacher at Marshall High School and has coached varsity sports there since 1996. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in educational administration from Michigan State University. He will represent teachers.

David Forystek of Fenton has more than 27 years of law enforcement experience. He currently serves as a police officer in the city of Vassar and is the owner of Premier Security Solutions, LLC. He will serve as the nominee of the Speaker of the House.

Brian Gard of Rockford is the founder and president of CommTac Solutions, a company that teaches employees and employers life safety skills to help them feel safer in the workplace. He maintains the company’s business model and helps with client training and safety assessments. Gard also serves as the manager of safety and security for a large multi-state charter school company. He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Western Michigan University and a master’s degree in management from Aquinas College. He will serve as the nominee of the Senate Majority Leader.

Patricia Kovacs of St. Clair Shores is a social worker at Fraser High School, where she previously served as a French teacher. She helped develop and facilitate a high school peer-to-peer program linking students with autism and general education students. Kovacs holds a bachelor’s degree from Albion College, a school social work certificate from the University of Michigan, and a master’s in social work from Wayne State University. She will serve as the nominee of the Senate Minority Leader.

Rick Joseph of Royal Oak is a national board-certified teacher. He has taught fifth and sixth grade at Covington School in the Birmingham Public School district since 2002 and was honored as the 2016 Michigan Teacher of the Year. Joseph holds a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Michigan and a master's degree in elementary education from the University of Illinois - Chicago. He will serve as the nominee of the Minority Leader of the House.

Larry Johnson of Kentwood is the assistant superintendent and executive director of public safety and school security for Grand Rapids Public Schools. Johnson previously worked as an adjunct professor of criminal justice at Grand Valley State University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. Johnson also holds a master’s degree in police administration from Ferris State University and is the past president and current chairman for the Board of the National Association of School Safety and Law Enforcement Officials. He will represent school administrators.

Paul Lauria of Mount Pleasant is the chief of police for the Mt. Pleasant Department of Public Safety. He holds a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement from Northern Michigan University and graduated from the FBI National Academy and the Northwestern School of Police. He will represent law enforcement.

Elizabeth Newell of Williamston is the state transformation assistant administrator for the Michigan Department of Education and leads the state's multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) team. Newell previously served as the mental health project coordinator for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and as a professional counselor for Comprehensive Psychological Services, PC. She holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Western Michigan University, a master’s degree in counseling from Michigan State University, and received an education specialist certificate from the University of Missouri – Columbia in addition to graduating from the National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children. She will represent mental health professionals.

Nolan Wright of Saline is a student at Saline High School. He is the chairman of the National Honors Society, president of the Executive Student Advisory Board and captain of the Saline High School soccer team. Wright also participated in the United States Naval Academy Summer Seminar and spoke at the TedxED conference in Clarkston. He will represent students.

Members will serve terms expiring at the pleasure of the Governor. Forty-five days after submission of their final report, the task force shall be deemed to have completed its charges and be abolished.