For most in Indiana, the 2018-19 school year has already started. On the mind of many parents, students, educators, and administrators will be how to keep students safe while in the classroom. After many recent threats to school safety across the state and a recent school shooting in Noblesville, additional steps have been taken to protect children in the classroom.
In March, legislative leaders failed to pass a school safety bill in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. When the governor called the legislature back for a special session in May, the legislature was able to pass House Bill 1230 (ss), a measure to help schools increase security measures. The legislation did the following:
- Provided $5 million for school safety grants.
- Set aside $35 million for low interest loans from the Common School Fund, allowing schools to borrow money for upgrades.
- Requires the Indiana Department of Education to provide resources or best practices for bullying prevention, including cyber bullying.
- Mandates that school professionals undertake training to identify human trafficking and how to report incidents to public safety offices.
Last week, Governor Holcomb received policy recommendations from his School Safety Task Force. This group is helping the administration draft ideas that will be considered during the 2019 legislative session that begins in January. Although the governor would not release what has been recommended to him, or what actions he may take without the legislature’s input, more can and must be done to protect our children while they are within the walls of our school buildings.
Prior to the release of the recommendations from the taskforce, the governor announced that handheld metal detectors would be made available to any school who requests the device. Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick is urging school administrators, in conjunction with their attorneys, to quickly adopt plans for how the handheld metal detectors will be used by school personnel and to ensure they are properly implemented to protect students.
Best wishes to all students, parents, and educators for a safe and secure school year!