Bill requires school safety plans

Sen. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian

School safety plans can look different from one school to the next, says Sen. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian.

Some school districts may want to allow teachers or bus drivers to carry firearms, while others may prefer to install metal detectors and establish gun-free zones.

Some districts may want to hire school resource officers; other districts may not have the money for such a constant police presence. Some districts may decide to restrict access to school buildings.

But Hagedorn does want school districts to have “multiple security deterrents” in place — and he wants these plans reviewed at the state and local levels. A bill requiring school safety plans received initial approval Monday from the Senate Education Committee.

Hagedorn said he has been working on the bill since the Dec. 14 mass murder at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school.

His bill has several key components:

  • School boards and local sheriffs must “develop, implement and maintain” safety plans for every public school in Idaho. The bill makes no specific recommendations, requiring only that the schools come up with multi-tiered security plans.
  • School boards and local law enforcement must review these local plans at least annually.
  • Schools must provide safety and crisis response training for students and employees, on at least an annual basis.
  • School boards must file safety plans with the state Department of Education annually. The state department would be required to “establish a standardized threat assessment tool” and come up with metrics for assessing district plans.

The districts’ plans — and the state’s assessments of them — would not be public record. The public records exemption is designed to keep sensitive documents out of a criminal’s hands, Hagedorn said.

Hagedorn said he has discussed his bill with sheriffs, the Idaho School Boards Association, Gov. Butch Otter’s staff, and a school safety task force formed in the wake of the Newtown shootings. But Hagedorn said he didn’t want to rush out the bill, in light of the “tremendous outcry” over Newtown.

“The objective was to let that passion tone down a little bit,” he said.

Unveiling the bill Monday, on the 50th day of the 2013 legislative session, required a bit of maneuvering.

The Education Committee voted to send the bill to the Senate State Affairs for introduction, because State Affairs is one of only a handful of committees that can “print” bills after the session’s 36th day. The bill will be sent back to the Education Committee for a hearing.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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