State House Passes School Security Bill That Includes Private Schools

  • Thursday, April 6, 2023

The state House on Thursday passed a school safety bill requiring schools in the state, including private and charter schools, to develop safety plans, keep all exterior doors locked except for the main door and conduct annual safety drills.

Officials said the bill is in addition to a $140 million plan announced by Governor Bill Lee after the shooting at Covenant School in Nashville in which three nine-year-old students and three school personnel were killed. That money is to be designated for armed SROs or security guards in all schools in the state.

The measure was considered as the House gallery was packed with gun control advocates - mostly students. Large numbers of other protesters were outside the House chambers.

Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, said, "This is not the real solution - simply fortifying our schools. It's a result of the real problem."

Rep. G.A. Hardaway said, "This is addressing the symptom and not the problem," and Rep. Bo Mitchell said it was "trying to use aspirin for cancer."

Rep. William Lamberth, R-Portland, responded that students would not be "in prison, but would be in a fortress" where they would be safe.

He said, "This legislation may not be the full solution, but it is a significant step forward."

He stated, in light of the attack at the private, church-related school, "We need to focus on school safety at all our schools."

Concerning the new $140 million state appropriation, he said schools that already have locally funded SROs or SSOs could use the funds to hire a second officer.

An amendment that was approved relates to Allysa's Law and provides mobile panic alarms in schools so that law enforcement and EMS personnel can be quickly contacted.

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