Bill seeking to strengthen school safety in Kentucky heads to Governor’s desk | #schoolsaftey

UPDATED: The school safety bill passed in 2019 had a goal of adding more school resource officers (SRO) and mental health professionals in schools, requires active shooter training for certain school employees, and requires that districts appoint a school safety coordinator.

Kentucky state Senator Max Wise noted the 2019 bill was landmark legislation that many other states have adopted and made law to protect children as well. But Kentucky is still experiencing gaps especially when it comes to ensuring each school does have a school resource officer on campus.

Building on the 2019 legislation, Wise’s Senate Bill 2 would create a “Guardian” program, which allows school districts to directly hire former law enforcement and military veterans. Guardians would also be able to carry a gun like an SRO but would differ as they would not have the power to arrest someone.

Senate Bill 2 also increases protections by building on the trauma-informed teams created in the 2019 School Safety and Resiliency Act and requires schools to offer two suicide prevention training sessions to students in grades 6-12 instead of one.

Districts should have mapping done of their school campuses for law enforcement to use in responding to an emergency. The new bill would create a central database for law enforcement agents responding.

In the House Education Committee meeting Tuesday morning, the bill was amended with a committee substitute to provide more oversight over the guardian program with funding for someone to coordinate with the districts, require paperwork from someone who was honorably discharged from the armed services, strengthened qualified immunity language, wording changes requested by the Kentucky Department of Education to make it easier to fill nursing positions, and more.  

There was also a committee amendment from Rep. Josh Calloway that allowed licensed pastoral counselors to serve in some of these trauma-informed team positions.

Senate Bill 2 saw final passage Thursday when it passed 70-27 in the House before receiving concurrence in the Senate with a 28-7 vote. The bill now heads to the Governor to consider during the veto period.

Stay tuned to The Bottom Line for more updates in the final days of the 2024 session.

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