Public concern overschool safety has increased over recent decades due to fatal shootings and other violent acts. The Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools is an office of the Department of Education created to address school safety concerns that face students. The Office administers drug and violence prevention programs for students in elementary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education, and related programs that promote the health and well being of students. The budget had been cut drastically in recent years. State grants dropped from $344 million in 2007 to $100 million for 2009. Cuts include Alcohol Abuse Reduction, Mentoring programs, Character Education, School Counseling, Physical and Civic Education.
The OSDFS was developed as the successor program to the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities (SDFSC) program, first authorized by Congress in 1986 as a response to alarmingly high rates of alcohol and other drug use among children and youth. On January 8, 2002, the President signed into law the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, which reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. The Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act (SDFSC), as Title IV, Part A of the NCLB, became effective on July 1, 2002. OSDFS was developed in September of 2002 to bring together into a single unit a number of programs that were previously scattered among several different federal department offices.
David G. Esquith has been the director of the Office of Safe and Healthy Students, an agency formerly known as the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, since January 30, 2012. The office is located in the Department of Education and reports to the assistant secretary for the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Born circa 1951 and hailing from the state of New York, Esquith did doctoral work in Education at the University of Kansas, completing all requirements except a dissertation in 1986. He served as a Peace Corps volunteer and has worked as a special education teacher and administrator. He has also been a lobbyist for the Association for Retarded Citizens (now known as The Arc) and a congressional aide.
Esquith served in the Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services for 23 years, including in the Office of Special Education Programs, the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), and the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). He served as a special advisor to the NIDRR director, as well as NIDRR’s deputy director. After the Department re-organized RSA in 2005, Esquith served as director of the State Monitoring and Program Improvement Division. He also completed an extended detail at the Office of Management and Budget as a program examiner.
Esquith is married to Kathryn Gingles, with whom he has two daughters, Sally and Daisy; he also has two sons and one daughter from a previous marriage.
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