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© Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images) Weymouth safety officer Joe Favreau directs school buses out of the Pleasant Street entrance after dismissal. Weymouth High School was placed in lockdown for about an hour after a teacher and students overheard a student claiming to have a weapon, on Thursday, May 21, 2015.
Lawmakers in states across the country have introduced nearly 250 school safety bills so far in 2019, underscoring how front-and-center the issue remains in the wake of two major school shootings that shook students, educators and parents and propelled the country to re-examine everything from gun safety laws to school discipline practices.
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Most of the proposed bills, according to the Education Commission of the States, which published Tuesday a 50-state comparison of all the school safety laws currently in place, focus on emergency preparedness – things like setting school safety plans, conducting emergency drills, installing door locks and metal detectors and implementing parent-notification systems.
At least 43 states and the District of Columbia require a school safety plan and at least 42 states require schools to conduct safety or security drills
Those types of emergency preparedness bills – 85 in total – are followed closely in number by proposals about school resource officers, which are are certified law-enforcement officers hired by local law-enforcement agencies to provide security in schools. The 71 bills include measures that would, for example, increase funding for school resource officers, provide them with increased training and allow them to carry firearms.
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Bullying is the next most popular category, including bills that address hazing, cyberbullying and school counseling, followed by certainly the most contentious category: guns in schools.
As it stands, at least 30 states and D.C. allow school security officers to possess weapons in schools, and at least eight states allow other school employees to possess weapons in schools if they meet certain safety training criteria. The 2019 proposals include the elimination of gun-free school zones, handgun training for teachers, allowing concealed handguns on school property and anti-gun violence training.
Lawmakers in Virginia, New York and Indiana have proposed more than one-third of all the school safety bills introduced so far in 2019.
The number of measures introduced within just a two-month window is already nearly half of all the school safety bills introduced in 2018. The windfall comes just months after the Federal Commission on School Safety published a final report, which included hundreds of safety recommendations for state and school districts to consider and urged policymakers to reassess their current protocols.
The commission was convened by the Trump administration in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a former student killed 17 children and adults in February of 2018. Later that year, in May, a student at Santa Fe High School in Texas fatally shot eight students and two teachers.
Copyright 2019 U.S. News & World Report
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