Meet the CSS Team

Joey Melvin
Joey MelvinDirector
Before accepting the director of Center for Safe Schools position, Joey Melvin served over 19 years as a law enforcement officer in Delaware. He also served two years with the Delaware Department of Homeland Security as deputy director of the Comprehensive School Safety Plan. In addition, he currently serves as Region 3 Director for the National Association of School Resource Officers. Joey earned his master’s degree from Liberty University and is now a doctoral student at Liberty.
Leah Galkowski
Leah GalkowskiCoordinator
Leah has served CSS for more than 23 years. She is a certified trainer for the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, Safe Dates Curriculum, and I Can Problem Solve. She is also the state leader for OBPP and a Technical Assitance Consultant. She is certified in the school climate improvement process through the National Center on School Climate.
Michelle Kern (she, her)
Michelle Kern (she, her)Coordinator
An AmeriCorps alumnae with 10 years of mental health experience, Michelle is a trainer in Youth Mental Health First Aid. She received her graduate certificate in Trauma Informed Care from Bryn Mawr College. She is a certified sexual assault counselor with four years fielding hotline calls. She coordinated a statewide crisis response team of volunteers. As a family based case manager, she attended numerous IEP and 504 meetings with clients and their families.

Center for Safe Schools History

In 1995, Act 26, the Safe Schools Act, created an Office of Safe Schools within the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Under the direction of the Department of Education, Center for Safe Schools (CSS) was created to perform many of the duties defined by Act 26. These duties included data collection, assisting schools in meeting the requirements of Act 26 and providing resources to educators on a variety of programs and issues.

Center for Safe Schools was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and National Crime Prevention Council as one of first 20 Statewide School Safety Centers in the nation. Under Governor Tom Ridge, the Children’s Cabinet partnered with Dan Olweus and Center for Safe Schools to bring the evidence-based program, Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) to the commonwealth. Pennsylvania brought the first cadre of trainers to the United States to implement the program statewide. In December 1999, 39 professionals were brought to the Masonic Homes in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania to become certified OBPP trainers.

Since December 1999, CSS has coordinated the Pennsylvania Bullying Prevention Network with ongoing professional development and a referral process for those in need of bullying prevention training. Currently, there are over 80 members across the commonwealth. CSS organized and hosted the 2018 and 2019 Bullying Prevention Day rally held in the Capitol rotunda in Harrisburg. Through a longtime partnership with Highmark Foundation, CSS launched Connect. Care. Champion: A Middle School Bullying Toolkit website in 2019. The bullying prevention toolkit websites were incorporated into the CSS website’s bullying prevention section, in 2024.

CSS is known for best practices related to door numbering for schools. The guide is available for free here.

In 2023, CSS worked with partner Slidesoft to create a nationwide easy to use physical safety assessment and behavioral health/school climate assessment tool. This tool creates a more standardize process for assessments and decreases the reporting writing time for assessors.

CSS has a long history of partnership with key state agencies concerned about school safety including the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, Pennsylvania State Police and Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.

Through Center for Safe Schools’ expert staff, as well as access to a network of state and national researchers and practitioners, CSS will continue to provide exceptional professional learning, technical assistance and resources to schools and their community partners throughout Pennsylvania and beyond.

CSS is a division of Center for Schools and Communities (CSC)

This creates a large resource of specialized experts and support staff to help facilitate the services and expertise of Center for Safe Schools.