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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: March 16, 2018 04:42 PM
From: Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf
To: All Senate members
Subject: School Safety Initiative
I intend to re-introduce Senate Bill 630 of last session. On January 29, 2013 the Senate adopted Senate Resolution 6, which I introduced, directing the Joint State Government Commission “to study the issue of violence prevention, to establish an advisory committee to conduct a thorough and comprehensive analysis of the underlying causes of violent crime, including mass shootings, and to report to the Senate with its findings and recommendations.” In December 2013 the Joint State Government Commission released its report entitled “Violence Prevention in Pennsylvania: Report of the Advisory Committee on Violence Prevention.” The 300-page report made 44 recommendations in the areas of media coverage of violent incidents; mental health; gun ownership; and school safety.

This bill amends the Public School Code of 1949 to incorporate into the law several of the advisory committee’s recommendations to improve school safety. The bill requires schools to undergo annual safety assessment audits for purposes of the school’s safety plan. The safety plan must address violence prevention, crisis intervention, emergency response and management, including communications within the school district and with law enforcement and emergency responders. Each school must have a threat assessment and crisis response team in place. As stated in the report, students, teachers and administrators must participate in “safety drills that address various risks, including active threats, terrorism, explosives and other scenarios.”

According to the report, the Department of Education’s “Office of Safe Schools makes targeted grants to school entities to fund programs that address school violence. Sixty percent of the money allocated to the Department of Education for targeted grants is to be used to pay the costs associated with the training and compensation of school resource officers and school police officers.” Currently, the law gives priority in grant funding to schools designated as persistently dangerous and with the greatest need to establish safety and order.

The report noted that there are “school buildings located 30-40 minutes away from the nearest law enforcement entity” and where the response time is so long, having “a school police resource officer on site becomes very important.” Therefore, the bill also gives a priority for grant funding to schools located more than 15 minutes from the nearest law enforcement agency to make it more likely that these schools will be able to hire school police resource officers.

Introduced as SB1103