Secretary Duncan to Give an Address on School Safety and the Promise Neighborhoods Program at Neval Thomas Elementary

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In his first public appearance since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will join D.C. leaders and community members for a school safety forum at Neval Thomas Elementary School on Friday, Dec. 21 at 9 a.m. Duncan will give a keynote address acknowledging the need for comprehensive protocols and policies to protect students from violence and crime, discuss the Obama Administration's Promise Neighborhoods program, and call on local, state, and national leaders to step up efforts to ensure safety in schools.

Expected attendees include D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson, D.C. Chief of Police Cathy Lanier, D.C. Promise Neighborhood Initiative (DCPNI) Director Ayria Scales, and Neval Thomas Elementary Principal RuthBarnes, among others. A community conversation with the audience will take place following Duncan's remarks.

Neval Thomas Elementary is one of several D.C. schools incorporated in the DCPNI, which won a $500,000 Promise Neighborhoods planning grant in 2010. As part of the White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, the Promise Neighborhoods grant program leverages community-led efforts to combat poverty by increasing wraparound services in schools and communities, including resources to curb crime and increase access to medical care.

DCPNI officials will be on-site to discuss their 2010 planning grant work and 2011 implementation application, which centers on efforts to improve safety, social services, and educational programs for the Parkside/Kenilworth community.

Doors will open at 8:50 a.m. and the event will begin at 9:15 a.m. Note that participants will hold a moment of silence at 9:30 a.m. to recognize the victims lost in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in Newtown, Conn. on Friday, Dec. 14.