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Who We Are

What is LAPSEN?

In 2002, the USDoE created a Career Cluster called Law, Public Safety, Corrections and Security (LPSCS). This cluster provides a framework for secondary and post-secondary schools to create curriculum and career pathways for students interested in the careers of law enforcement, fire services, security and the like. LAPSEN is the leading national organization supporting these efforts with the focus at the secondary school level. It provides and shares LPSCS career education programs, curriculum, certifications and models that help connect secondary students to work and colleges that are cost-effective and can be used by secondary school instructors, their partners and participating states.

Law & Public Safety Education Network: Work Smarter

Recorded at ACTE Vision 2020

Our Mission

To help develop and share LPSCS career education programs, curriculum, certifications, and models that help connect students to work and college that are cost effective and can be used by participating states and other partners.

Our Vision

The Law and Public Safety Education Network will be recognized as the premier support organization for the LPSCS Career Cluster as relates to secondary school education and its connections to post secondary educations and careers in the targeted professions.

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Our Goals

Identify needs of the member states, LPSCS instructors and work, using a variety of methods to meet those needs.

Developing ways of communicating with all members and their constituents to share resources including curriculum, certifications, assessments, and related materials.

Sponsor and/or recommend conferences and workshops as deemed useful by LAPSEN members

To the extent practical, include those organizations and agencies supporting education and training related to the LPSCS Career Cluster in decision-making processes related to LAPSEN goals.

Why LAPSEN Was Created

To enter the targeted professions, many of the career pathways in the Law, Public Safety, Corrections and Security (LPSCS) Career Cluster have several obstacles unique to the Cluster including age, physical fitness, and various certification needs. Compounding these are differing requirements within the states. Irrespective of these differences, most states can reduce costs and provide more effective career development initiatives by collaborating in program, curriculum, and certification development to include cost sharing. A number of states established LAPSEN to achieve those purposes.

What We Do

LAPSEN is set up to serve the needs of secondary schools that have career programs in the career areas of law, law enforcement, corrections, Fire services, security and related fields such as emergency services, emergency dispatch, cybersecurity, and forensics. 

The services provided include curriculum development, certifications for both students and instructors, training for instructors, assistance in developing and improving LPSCS career programs, and certifying and assessing current programs for quality and effectiveness.

LAPSEN Organization

The structure of LAPSEN consists of the following:

Board of Directors: Each member state appoints of person to represent it on the Board, as well as one alternate. Board membership will be updated on an annual basis. These are the voting members. In addition, certain groups represented in LAPSEN committees, such as colleges and non-profit professional associations may select one representative to serve on the Board as a non-voting member. Executive Committee: This committee consists  of Board members and is composed of the chairperson, vice chair, past chair, treasurer, secretary, and up to three board members.

This committee shall represent the board on day to day matters, plan Board meetings, and oversee projects unless delegated by the Committee. Other responsibilities may be assigned as approved by the Board. The Executive Committee will be elected by the Board of Directors at an annual meeting. The following terms will apply:

  • Chairperson – A term of two years (after initial two years, the Chairperson will not be as the Vice Chair will automatically assume the position of Chairperson at the end of this year)

  • Vice Chair – A term of two years but will be moved into the Chairperson’s position at the end of their Vice Chair term (only voted on as Vice Chair).

  • Past Chair – This position will not exist in the first two years and is not a position voted on by the board. The immediate past Chairperson will serve in this position for two years after his or her term as Chairperson has expired.

  • Treasurer –A term of two years, may be re-elected once.

  • Secretary – A term of two years may be re-elected once.

  • Three Board members – eventually these Board members will serve staggered terms with one board member going off the board each year and one being added each year. Terms will be three years. For first-year elections, one member will be elected for a 1-year term, one for a two-year term, and one for a three-year term.

 Special committees and project teams are formed as approved by the board and include the general membership.

Board of Directors

Steven Watterson, Chair

Education Associate at South Carolina Department of Education. After a full career as a Naval Officer, service in CTAE for over 15 years!

Learn more about Mr. Watterson: Click Here

Dr. David Barbour, Past Chair

Education Consultant for Trade & Industry at North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. Nearly two decades working in technical education.  

Learn more about Dr. Barbour: Click Here

Candace Vinson, Secretary

Education Consultant at Michigan Department of Education, Office of Career & Technical Education, Career Readiness Unit. Over a decade working in technical education, she was a Family Consumer Science teacher before moving into administration. 

Learn more about Mrs. Vinson: Click Here

Dr. Thomas Washburn, Treasurer

A recent retiree as Program Specialist for LPSCS pathways for Fulton County Schools (Atlanta, Georgia) and classroom teacher at the Cambridge Law & Justice Program (Milton, Georgia). Tom is the Executive Director for LAPSEN 

Learn more about Dr. Washburn: Click Here

Katie Fitzgerald, Executive Committee

Director of Communications and Membership at Advance CTE. In her first decade working in education policy work in Washington D.C.. 

Learn more about Mrs. Fitzgerald: Click Here

Crystal Roberts, Executive Committee

​Education Program Consultant for the Kansas State Department of Education. Vast expeirence in workforce and employment training. 

Learn more about Ms. Roberts: Click Here

Cindy Beck, Executive Committee

Health Careers Education Programs Consultant for the California Department of Education. Vast expeirence in health care, mental health and work with HOSA. 

Learn more about Ms. Beck: Click Here

Dr. Joseph N. Coffee  

Over three decades working with career programs across the nation. 20 years experience working with Law, Public Safety, Corrections and Security programs. Formerly worked with the ATF. Joe is the past Executive Director for LAPSEN.

Learn more about Dr. Coffee: Click Here

Jordan Whittington, State Representative

Program Director for Health and Public Safety at the Colorado Community College System. Started as a Army Combat Medic, taught Health Science and now works for the CCCS. 

Learn more about Mr. Whittington: Click Here

Sandra Martin, State Representative

Georgia Department of Education Program Specialist. Several decades working in technical education, she was a nurse and then a Health Science teacher before moving into administration. 

Learn more about Mrs. Martin: Click Here

Peggy Williford, State Representative

Kentucky Department of Education Program Consultant. Several decades working in technical education, she was a nurse and then a Health Science teacher before moving into administration. 

Learn more about Mrs. Williford: Click Here

Dr. Oscar Carter, State Representative 

Director of Skilled Technical Sciences at the Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education. Over three decades working in technical education.  

Learn more about Dr. Carter: Click Here

Our Partners, Members and Advisors



First Last Organization Board Position 
Michael Connet ACTE Partner
Rachael Mann ACTE Partner
Katie Fitzgerald Advance CTE Executive Board, Partner
Lori Gray AZ State Rep
Cindy Beck CA DOE Executive Board, Full State
Chip Depietro Charlotte Co, Fl Full School District
Stacey Hervey CO State Rep
Christopher DeRosa CT State Rep
Julius Jackson DC State Rep
Chip DePietro FL State Rep
Steve Dalton Future Guardians of Virginia Partner
Sandra Martin GA DOE Full State
Cale Hutchings IA DOE Advisory State
Mark Johnson iCEV Partner
Sandi Davies IFPO Partner
Peggy Williford KY DOE Full State
Crystal Roberts KS DOE Executive Board, Full State
Thomas Washburn LAPSEN Executive Board, Executive Director Treasurer
Joe Coffee LAPSEN Executive Board Secretary
Carrie Hernandez Las Cruces, NM Full School District
Kristen Tirado MA State Rep
Candace Vinson MI DOE Advisory State
Lisa Cacao Microburst Learning Partner
Oscar Carter MO DESE Executive Board, Full State
Aimee Brown MS DOE Advisory State
Ed Butler MS DOE Advisory State
Ryan Akers MyPI Partner
Ben Williams NAPE Partner
David Barbour NC DPI Executive Board Chair
Chris Wood NECI Partner
Rick Schmidt NM PED Advisory State
Peyton Holland NTHS Partner
Randi Hunewill NV DOE Advisory State
Crystal Nowka Oakland MI Full School District
Chris Lieber SAVE Partner
Tony Sanders SAVE Partner
Steve Watterson SC DOE Executive Board, Full State, Vice Chair
Darren Gibson SkillsUSA Partner
Patrick Joyce TEFGA Partner
Dale Fowler Texas TEA Advisory State
Patricia Blades Oakland Full School District
Jody Smith Youscience Partner