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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: December 11, 2017 04:00 PM
From: Representative Karen Boback
To: All House members
Subject: School Safety
In the near future, I will be introducing a key piece of legislation that will advance school safety and security throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The safety and protection of all public school students and staff across the Commonwealth is a paramount issue that must be addressed. Since 2013, there have been over 200 school shootings in the United States. This includes cases in which a gun was discharged on a school campus, but does not include any cases in which a plot was not achieved.

Students, faculty and staff need to be prepared for these potential violent or life-threatening emergency situations. That is why my legislation would provide two provisions to enhance schools safety and security. The first provision would mandate that all schools conduct a school safety drill within the first 90 days to prepare for these potential situations. It would also require that schools alert local law enforcement of the drill and request their assistance in the implementation of the drill. The safety drill could replace one of the currently required school fire drills.

The second provision requires that all schools equip their school buildings with a minimum of two panic buttons: one button to be placed in the principal’s office, and the other inconspicuously and strategically in the main administration office so office personnel would have access to during a violent or life-threatening emergency situation. The button would be a direct link to local law enforcement as well as the local 911 answering center. This would allow for an immediate police response, followed by other emergency entities as dispatched by a 911 center.

In emergency violent and life-threatening situations, every second counts. This piece of legislation would give schools the ability to request that immediate response. A direct notification to the police can decrease response time and in turn, could save lives.

Furthermore, in this legislation, I have explicitly included panic button capabilities as an allowable expense under the Office for Safe Schools grant program. In the most recent grant year, approximately $1.5 million has been allocated specifically to security related technologies. This bill would include panic buttons under those qualifications.

This legislation would implement two new provisions to enhance school safety and security for students and staff throughout the Commonwealth. Too often, after a school shooting, people pose the question “why wasn’t this prevented?” or “what more can we do?” This bill is the first step towards preventing these horrific tragedies from ever occurring.

I hope that you will join me in sponsoring this very important piece of legislation to help make our schools a safer and more secure place for all students and staff throughout the Commonwealth.

Introduced as HB2057