FRANKFORT, Ky. (2/13/13) – Surrounded by supporters who share his goal of making schools safer, state Rep. Richard Henderson introduced legislation today that would forge a stronger relationship between educators, law enforcement and mental health professionals and lay out new standards for schools to follow.
Rep. Henderson’s bill is built on recommendations given in recent weeks during the House Special Subcommittee on School Safety Issues, which he chairs. “We have learned that there is a lot of room for growth in this area, especially in light of the Newtown, Conn., tragedy in December,” he said. “I want to thank everyone who has participated in these meetings, and I appreciate everyone’s willingness to pull together to do all we can to make our schools safer.”
His legislation calls on all schools to adopt a comprehensive emergency plan – covering everything from lock-down situations to fires and tornadoes – and have the schools carry out drills regularly, beginning within a month of a new school year. Those emergency response plans would be shared with the Kentucky Dept. of Education and with local law enforcement, fire departments and medical personnel. Local review boards would also study new or renovated school designs to see if further safety measures could be added.
In other areas, the bill encourages local chiefs of police and sheriffs to receive more school and student safety training.
Parents or legal guardians would also have to make school officials aware if their child has a mental or emotional condition that may be a safety concern, a move that builds on current law requiring disclosure of any other illness that could adversely affect the student population.
“This bill is a common-sense approach that I think will go a long way to improving current safety plans, and do it in a way that is cost-effective as well,” Rep. Henderson said. “I’m committed to doing all I can to pass this and my House Bill 135, which would make the School and Safety Review Subcommittee a permanent part of legislative review. I look forward to debating their merits and see if there are ways we can do even more.”
Information provided by Brian Wilkerson
Photo provided by SurfKY Graphics
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