The state House, on Monday, unanimously passed legislation to install new school safety reforms and advance peer-to-peer student support programs in schools, as well as include assessments for school facility vulnerabilities.
The legislation, HB938, also includes more school resource officer training programs.
The Various School Safety Changes legislation was built on recommendations from the House Select Committee on School Safety after weeks of studying the issue from a variety of angles to pull together a well-rounded set of measures to improve school safety and protect students.
All middle and high schools, and elementary schools as appropriate, would coordinate and provide training for peer-to-peer student support programs under the legislation, which is in the Senate for consideration.
The bill also requires the state Center for Safer Schools to develop facility vulnerability assessments in cooperation with the Department of Public Instruction and the Department of Public Safety.
“This is the second bill that is the result of the committee on school safety recently formed by the Speaker,” Rep. John Torbett (R-Gaston), co-chair of the state House Select Committee on School Safety said. “This committee looks at the safety of our kids as best we can in a very short period of time to get something for the short session, and then takes a more exhaustive look during the interim rolling into 2019. We’ve done exactly that.”
The school vulnerability assessments would be integrated into the School Risk and Response Management System (SRRMS) as part of a School Risk Management Plan (SRMP).
Local school systems would be required to apply the system to each school building annually.
The bill also expands school resource officer training and continuing education programs.
The training standards would be required to include diversity and equity, tactical, and mental health training.
The legislation would standardize public safety requirements across all of the state’s public schools including charter, regional, laboratory, and innovative schools, as well as the Schools for the Deaf, the Governor Morehead School for the Blind, the School of Science and Mathematics, and the School of the Arts.
Those requirements include the adoption of risk management plans, annual school-wide tabletop drills and exercises, and providing school schematic diagrams to local law enforcement and the Division of Emergency Management.
In addition to this legislation, the state budget, passed last week, included $35 million for school safety initiatives and the House also recently passed another recommendation from select committee to expand student access to licensed psychologists.
“These additional measures to strengthen school security in North Carolina maintain our comprehensive approach to protecting students in classrooms every day,” House Speaker Rep. Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) said.