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The Complete Guide to School Safety Law around the United States

School Safety Law: State by State

School safety law has become an issue of paramount importance across the country. While we’re currently implementing healthy and safety guidelines to protect ourselves from Covid-19, school shootings have been a threat for a long time. Recent years have shown a rising amount of school shootings, with school shootings in 2019 showing an alarming rate of shooting incidents in schools, as well as other violence that has heightened the need to understand school security rules, security policies, recommended procedures, and more.

A first step in making our schools safer is understanding the law. This article provides an overview of school safety laws and policies in all 50 states as well as D.C.

Overview of School Safety Law

Citing that there are no school safety laws that apply to every school across the country, the U.S. Department of Education decided in 2018 not to create federal school safety laws. Rather, President Trump created a Federal Commission on School Safety to make school safety policies and procedures RECOMMENDATIONS for consideration by school boards across the country. This left each state, county, and locality to decide what school safety policies they wished to apply, and created a great variation in what schools across the country do to keep our children safe.

Department of Education seal with tree

Following are a few generalized facts about state school system policies across the country:

 

  • School safety plans are required in at least 43 states, and law enforcement agencies are required to participate in creating those in at least 29 states.
  • As of 2020, only about 13 states school safety policies required school safety audits, and less than half of those required law enforcement to assist in those audits.
  • In at least 30 states the school security policy allows school security guards to have weapons in school, while 9 states allow other school employees to have weapons.
  • At least 42 states require schools to conduct safety or security drillsin state statute or regulation. Other states may require drills through handbooks, guides or other rules.
  • School resources officers are defined in school safety legislation in at least 29 states; at least 28 states require special school safety training for these officers.
  • Some states school safety standards allow those with concealed carry permits to have weapons on campus.

 

Blue map of the US

Now, let’s take a look at each state, one by one, to get more details on the laws around our country:

 

Alabama

School Safety Overview and Resources

According to the office of the governor of Alabama, school security is a top priority. As of early 2020, the Alabama State Department of Education does not have a school safety page prominently posted on their website, however, a search reveals information about crisis planning, safety planning, human trafficking and more.  In addition, the Alabama Governor’s website has an informative School Safety page. The governor’s website explains that, “Governor Ivey recognizes that each school’s security needs are unique, and local districts must be given an opportunity to assess their own security needs. With this in mind, the SAFE Council is tasked with focusing on ways to harden school facilities, identify threats, and provide interventions for students who are at-risk of committing violence.”

In addition the state government has taken steps to make schools better and safer in 2019 and beyond by giving teachers a raise, and dedicating millions of dollars for supplies, anti-bully training, and safety training.

The state of Alabama does require that schools have a safety plan in place; safety drills must be performed monthly.

Security personnel may carry firearms while on duty if they are a certified law enforcement officer per the above. They are also required to carry a non-lethal weapon and be trained in the use of that weapon. People with concealed weapon permits may carry weapons in school, but no other school employees are explicitly authorized by law to do so.

 

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities, with law enforcement participation.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Annually
  • Are Safety Drills Required? Yes, monthly.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? They must complete firearms training (annually) and active shooter training and preparedness (unspecified timeline).
  • Are weapons allowed in school? Security personnel may have weapons, including firearms. People who have concealed weapons permits may use them on campus. There is no statute that specifically authorizes school personnel to carry weapons.

Learn more about school related legal statutes in Alabama.

 

Alaska

Overview and Resources

As of early 2020, neither the Alaska Department of Education nor the Alaskan governor had a heading on their webpage about school safety, as many other states do. To look at their webpage, one would not know that school safety were such a major, national issue. Yet Alaska has not been immune to campus violence. In 1993, a woman was murdered on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus. In 2019, officers in Anchorage responded to a gun violence threat. However, in 2018, the Alaskan legislature did pass Resolution 7, a bill to help manage school violence.

Resolution 7 was touted by lawmakers as a very important response to the Parkland, Florida school shootings. But in reality, the legislation is brief and non-specific. It calls for three actions:

  • “Increased training for school employees and enhanced coordination with law enforcement agencies and first responders to ensure appropriate responses to incidents of violence in schools.
  • Enhanced mental health and support services, including nurses, counselors, -3- Enrolled HR 7 school psychologists, and public safety officers, to help create the positive and nurturing social and emotional school environment that is key to keeping our schools as safe as possible.
  • Increased access to school safety measures, including school safety infrastructure, public safety officers, emergency planning, and other security measures designed to protect students and staff at school and allow students to focus on learning.”

But these changes are not readily reflected on the Department of Education or governor’s website.

 

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities, with law enforcement participation.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Annually
  • Are Safety Drills Required? Yes, monthly.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? School resource officers are not required nor mentioned in state statues.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? No one person or title is specifically authorized to carry weapons in school. However, the school board has the right to authorize a person to carry a weapon.

Read more about school related legal statutes in Alaska.

Stop sign on a school bus

Arizona

Overview and Resources

Arizona’s Department of Education has a solid list of resources surrounding school safety. This list includes a school emergency preparedness section that provides resources such as how to deal with a pandemic and how to talk to children about school shootings.

 

While Arizona law is a bit light and vague surrounding school resource officers and weapons, looking at the governor’s website shows that they do have school security on their mind. In January 2020, the governor released a plan to fund school safety.

Specifically, the governor’s plan calls for investing in mental and behavioral health resources within the schools, creating a school safety tip line, restricting firearm access through background checks and more, and increasing “school resource officers” (though their code calls them peace officers). It is interesting to note that on a bulleted list of 6 things the plan will do, background checks are mentioned twice.

 

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities, with law enforcement participation.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Annually
  • Are Safety Drills Required? There is no specific requirement for drills.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? Schools are allowed to request a peace officer from law enforcement; no training is specified.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? Peace officers may carry weapons. While no other person is explicitly granted permission to carry weapons, those with concealed carry permits may.

Read more about Arizona school related legal statutes.

Carton people holding school supplies

Arkansas

Overview and Resources

In Arkansas, school safety policies and procedures do not specifically stand out in the law. Looking at an outline of each heading in the Title 6 Education statute of Arkansas, there is no heading with school safety, security, shooting, hazard, or any similar heading easily visible. There is a little bit of information buried in Subchapter 13 under the heading “Safe Schools Committee”.

 

In addition, the governor’s website doesn’t mention schools at all on the home page. A list of “priorities” is about tax cuts, economy, and veterans affairs, though a “Reading Initiative for Student Excellence” does come in on the bottom of the list. There is nothing about student safety. There are some blog posts on the website about the school superintendent and others working on school safety.

Looking at the Arkansas Department of Education website, at a glance, doesn’t seem much better. The home page is quite full, yet there is no mention of school safety. Following webpage bread crumbs two more layers deep brings up an article that says “safety is our top priority”. This page simply directs to SchoolSafety.gov, a federal government website providing recommendations to state school districts.

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local, with no requirement for law enforcement to assist.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated?
  • Are Safety Drills Required? An active shooter drill and lockdown drill must each be conducted once a year.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? School resource officers may be commissions; no special training is noted.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? Resource officers may carry weapons, but no other employees are specifically authorized.

Read more about Arkansas school related legal statutes.

 

California

Overview and Resources

California legal statues related to education are sparse. A quick look at the California Department of Education website in mid 2020 revealed no quick link to school safety, other than health issues. However, a search of the website brings up a plethora of links and documents, including the Safe Schools Planning website.

The Department of Education website links to a 12-step school safety plan published by the California legislature. The legislation states that, “Each school district and county office of education is responsible for the overall development of all comprehensive school safety plans for its schools operating kindergarten or any of grades 1 to 12, inclusive”. On the state’s website there is no link to school safety information other than for the pandemic, and even a search of the site brings up little on school safety. But one 2020 news article suggests that California leaders may be rethinking school safety.

 

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities, with law enforcement participation.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Safety audits are not required.
  • Are Safety Drills Required? Yes, once per quarter.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? Yes, they must be trained to be a school security officer, and not have any reason that legal prohibits them from carrying a weapon, though carrying a weapon is not required. If they do carry a weapon, they must have weapons training.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? Police officers may carry weapons. No other person is explicitly authorized to carry a weapon.

Read more about school related legal statutes in California.

 

Colorado

Overview and Resources

Colorado was home to one of the worst school shootings in history – the 1999 Columbine shooting. But they continue to improve their school safety protocols. In 2018, Colorado passed a school safety act that ensured better school communications and training, provided funds for school security, and created a suicide prevention program. In 2019, the Attorney General of Colorado commissioned a 151-page report that details safety procedures in Colorado schools. It includes lockdown response, suicide prevention, and more, and is quite detailed.

 

The Department of Education website is very well organized and designed. While school safety is not listed on the main page or any high level menus, a search of “school safety” brings up the School Safety Resources page. The Colorado governor’s website dashboard has a link to education, but clicking it brings up a disappointing page about employment metrics. But elsewhere on the Colorado state website is the School Safety Resource Center, which has some good information on a variety of school safety topics, including bullying, suicide prevention, and preparing for safety drills.

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities; law enforcement is not required to participate.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Audits are not specified.
  • Are Safety Drills Required? Drills are required, but no frequency is listed.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? It specifies that a school resource officer must be trained, and refers it to the Peace Officer Standards and Training (O.S.T.) board.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? Peace officers are allowed to carry visible or concealed weapons; no other persons are so specified to carry weapons.

Read more about Colorado school related legal statutes, where titles 22, 23, and 24 all apply to education.

Cartoon school with students

Connecticut

Overview and Resources

An online search in mid-2020 might give one the impression that in Connecticut school safety is not top of mind. The main Connecticut government page and the Department of Education page have no mention of school security. The “most popular” list on the Connecticut Department of Education website includes learning together and school discipline, but not school safety.

 

A look at the School Safety and Security website on the government Department of Education portal is less than informative, with no easily discernable information, nothing about preventing school violence, bullying, or anything. The governor’s website has no mention of education, much less school safety. In the list of working groups and legislative proposals, school security is not a listed priority.

 

In June 2018, the Board of Education voted unanimously to allow school resource officers to carry weapons in school. And reading news articles on safety in Connecticut schools gives one some sense that it is being thought about, but little solid information is readily available.

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities, with law enforcement participation.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Audits are not required.
  • Are Safety Drills Required? Crisis response drills must be held every three months.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? Yes, they must be retired policemen with licensing through the Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection and training in drugs and gang identification.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? No person is specifically authorized to carry weapons by state statute, but the school board does have the right to give such authorization, which it exercised in 2018 by allowing all SROs to carry weapons.

Read more about Connecticut school related legal statutes.

 

Delaware

Overview and Resources

Media in Delaware feel that Delaware lawmakers and school leadership have been proactive in securing their schools. For example, in 2017 lawmakers unanimously passed a resolution requiring all new schools and major renovations “to include security infrastructure like secured vestibules, panic buttons, electronically locked classroom doors, and ballistic resistant glass”.

 

The Department of Education in Delaware seems to echo the importance of safety. By clicking on the home page link “Climate & Discipline”, one is easily taken to a page with resources on anti-bullying, school safety, and more. The safety page provides a link to the laws related to school safety, regulations, safety plans, and other resources. The home page of the Governor has a direct link to a school safety page with extensive information, including outlining how Delaware has a Comprehensive School Safety Program (CSSP) that works with schools on plans, training, drills, and more.

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? A school safety commission.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? It must be updated and audited annually.
  • Are Safety Drills Required? Yes, there must be at least two lockdown drills a year, and one tabletop exercise each year.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? Resource officers must receive annual awareness training from the district which includes disability awareness, de-escalation techniques, intervention decisions, and more.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? Any law enforcement officer may carry a weapon, but no one else is specifically authorized.

Read more about Delaware school related legal statutes.

 

District of Columbia (D.C.)

Overview and Resources

D.C. parents and lawmakers take school safety law very seriously. The State Board of Education maintains a blog on school safety that is full of information on various initiatives. The governor’s website houses information on the School Safety Act of 2018. Among other things, this act helps enforce three categories of safety officers in schools, as follow:

 

  • A school resource officer is a police officer assigned to a school.
  • A security guard is an unarmed person hired and trained by the police department and then assigned to a school.
  • A school security officer is a guard hired by the school.

 

Each of these officers must have training in child development, behavior management, conflict resolution, youth substance abuse, and more.

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities, with law enforcement participation.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Must be audited annually.
  • Are Safety Drills Required? No drills are specifically required.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? D.C. has different categories of resource officers, and all require training per above.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? Any resource officer specifically licensed to carry a gun may do so on school grounds, but no one else is specifically authorized.

Read more about D.C. school related legal statutes.

 

Florida

Overview and Resources

Unfortunately, Florida is very familiar with school violence, as the Parkland shooting of 2018 was one of the most famous school shootings in history. Later that same year, the Florida legislature signed into law the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act (MSDHSPSA), which called for creation of a Office of Safe Schools, school safety assessments, mental health training requirements, a violence reporting tool, and more. While some say it didn’t go far enough, it was an improvement on a system that had basically nothing at that time.

 

While the governor in 2019 signed a senate bill to strengthen school safety and provided raises for teachers, his government home page has no mention of school safety. Today, Florida allows for school resource officers that are trained, employed police officers. They also have “school guardians”, which are employees trained to handle certain issue but without legal authority.

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities, with law enforcement participation.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Must be audited annually.
  • Are Safety Drills Required? School districts are responsible for the content and frequency of drills.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? School resource officers (SROs) and school guardians both require training. School guardians must have firearms training and a concealed weapons permit. SROs must have a variety of training, including crisis intervention training.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? Yes, by SROs and school guardians with permits.

Read more about Florida school related legal statutes.

School crossing sign

Georgia

Overview and Resources

In 2019, in the wake of a serious shooting in its neighbor state of Florida, Georgia legislature easily passed a school safety bill that focused on prevention with security and mental health issues. But many criticized the bill as not going far enough to really address the issue of guns in schools.

 

The Georgia Department of Education does not have a main link on their webpage to any information about school safety. However, a search for “school safety” on the site brings up a variety of links, including a comprehensive School Safety Guide and School Safety Plans. The DOE also provides schools with a template for creating their own safety plan.

 

The governor’s website has no mention of education at all on the home page, but the list of initiatives and priorities does much safety on campus and expanding mental health care in schools.

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Each school, with help of local law enforcement.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Annually
  • Are Safety Drills Required? The frequency and content of drills is set by the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? School resource officers are trained “peach officers”, or police, with police training.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? SROs are allowed to carry weapons. The board of education may also authorize others, on a case by case basis.

Read more about Georgia school related legal statutes.

 

Hawaii

Overview and Resources

An online search about school safety in Hawaii gives one the impression that it is not a major concern, even though a third of middle schoolers report feeling less than safe in school. There are few articles written on school safety in Hawaii, but the Hawaii State Department of Education points out on their website that safety is important, and that in fact academic success is impacted by how safe kids feel at school.

 

However, it does seem that in Hawaii there might be a bit of complacency. The DOE writes, “We are fortunate to live in Hawaii, where incidents of violence and threatening behaviors in schools are fewer than for our Mainland counterparts”, which may be true, but should not detract from a focus on safety.

 

The DOE does to on to discuss their partnership with law enforcement to keep kids safe and educate them, and they have created school safety committees at each school. Yet, neither the governor nor the DOE have school safety as an item on their home webpages.

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Hawaii does NOT require a safety plan.
  • Are Safety Drills Required? Safety drills are not required.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? Schools can hire a school security attendant. No training is required. There is no mention of training or weapon carrying in the statutes.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? While students are not allowed weapons, no one else is explicitly allowed or prohibited weapons in school.

Read more about Hawaii school related legal statutes.

 

 

Idaho

Overview and Resources

The Idaho Department of Education has a very well organized, easy to follow, attractive website; but it doesn’t mention school security on the home page at all, or in any main menus. Even a search of the page brings up little on school security, but it does bring up a .pdf file that is a School Safety and Security Update, which at a glance looks amazing, but upon review is more like a very light slide show with no real context.

 

This document professes the importance of training, education, and safety, but gives no real policies or procedures. It does, however, emphasize a focus on suicide prevention and response, training, security equipment, student programs, restorative justice, and bullying prevention. But it then directs the reader to a now defunct link on keeping Idaho students safe.

 

Despite the minimal information at the DOE, a further search reveals that this state has the Idaho Office of School Safety & Security. This is a thorough threat response website with plans, resources, and more – one wonders why the DOE doesn’t link prominently to it from their homepage.

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? No plan is required by legal statute.
  • Are Safety Drills Required? Evacuation drills are required, but no frequency is specified.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? School resource officers are not mentioned in Idaho statutes. But in Idaho law, localities are responsibility for school authority and safety.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? Any school employee who is licensed to carry a firearm may do so inside a school.

Read more about Idaho school related legal statutes.

 

Illinois

Overview and Resources

Illinois has created and prominently posted online a very detailed School Emergency and Crisis Response Plan Guide. They also created the School Safety Drill Act. According to the act itself, “The purpose of this Act is to establish minimum requirements and standards for schools to follow when conducting school safety drills and reviewing school emergency and crisis response plans and to encourage schools and first responders to work together for the safety of children. Communities and schools may exceed these requirements and standards.”

 

This act clearly specifies drills required, and states that at least one drill must include the involvement of either the police or fire departments.  And each school district must complete their own threat assessment, specific to their area.

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Plan must be updated annually
  • Are Safety Drills Required? Evacuation, law enforcement, and shelter in place drills are all required, at least three annually.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? Extensive and specific training is required for school resource officers, including training in adolescent development issues.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? Law enforcement officers are allowed to carry weapons, with consent of the school.

Read more about Illinois school related legal statutes.

 

 

Indiana

Overview and Resources

After the 2018 Parkland shooting, Indiana made some real advances in school training. In fact, one CNBC article says that, “Indiana is one of the few states in the country taking a unique approach to school safety”. One of the best practices is the state running a School Safety Specialist Academy, where they spend five days training at least one member of every school district in state and national best practices in school safety. They actually put this in place after the 1999 Columbine shooting.

 

In addition, the state Department of Homeland Security published the 2018 Indiana School Safety Recommendations, a 138-page document that focusses on three key areas in school safety: enhanced mental health services; safety equipment, technology, tools, and training; and policies and legislation. As part of this plan they created a secured school fund to help pay for school resource officers, equipment, and threat assessments. Learn more about Indiana school safety training.

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities, with law enforcement participation.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? There is no update or audit requirement.
  • Are Safety Drills Required? One annual drill is required, but schools may choose to have more drills.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? A school resource officer must be a police officer. No additional training is specified.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? No one, other than SROs, are explicitly allowed to carry weapons.

Read more about Indiana school related legal statutes.

 

 

Iowa

Overview and Resources

A Google search of “Iowa schools safety” quickly reveals that Iowa prioritizes safety in their schools. How? Because the top 5 or more results are all official Iowa government pages, each with unique information about schools safety.

 

First up is the Department of Education website, with a very detailed list of topics including emergency operations planning, fire safety, and playground safety. The emergency planning page is very thorough, and includes a great list of webinars that the state offers for school employees; the only issue is that as of summer 2020, the webinars were outdated by two years.

 

The governor’s web page does include significant information on school safety, including a note that, “Iowa has taken a comprehensive approach to keeping students safe. This includes legislation signed by Governor Reynolds in 2018 that requires high-quality emergency operations plans in every school, as well as training to help schools prevent and respond to threats of violence”. Iowa’s Department of Homeland Security has a very detailed school safety page. Finally, there is an Iowa School Safety Alliance, which is a collection of community organizations including the Fire Marshall and Department of Education, among others, whose mission is to, “Assist schools in preparing for, mitigating, responding to and recovering from natural and man-made threats and incidents.”

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities, with law enforcement participation.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Annually
  • Are Safety Drills Required? One drill a year is required.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? SRO officers are not mentioned in Iowa educational statute.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? Police officers may have weapons; no other person is specified.

Read more about Iowa school related legal statutes.

 

Kansas

Overview and Resources

In 2019, a new Kansas law scaled back the number of drills required in each schoolyear. This might sound like a bad thing, but at the time the law required 16 emergency drills a year – nearly one every two weeks. This required a lot of preparation and disruption, and by most accounts was probably too much. So, in 2019, they reduced the number because some felt that too many drills added to student anxiety. But they still run nine a year: four for fire, two for tornado, and three for crisis lockdowns.

 

The same year, Kansas created a Safe and secure Schools Unit, whose mission is, “To assist school district [sic] by helping them build solid foundations of readiness, security and resiliency to withstand ALL-Hazards and anything man-made (intentional or unintentional).” The unit website presents a crisis plan template that schools can use, posters and other suppliers they can print, guidance on drills and exercises and more.

 

Finally, to help keep schools safe, Kansas created a Kansas Safe Schools Hotline. According to the website, “The Kansas State Department of Education, in cooperation with the Kansas Highway Patrol, has established a school safety hotline. This hotline is a toll free number available 24 hours per day, 365 days per year to give students, parents, and community members the opportunity to report any impending school violence. As you are aware, students usually have knowledge of potential school violence before it occurs. This hotline gives students the opportunity to anonymously report any potential violence.” However, the page has a video that as of summer 2020 was a dead link, which makes one wonder if the hotline is still being maintained when the website is not.

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? No, plans are not required.
  • Are Safety Drills Required? Schools must have nine crisis drills a year, including lockdown and intruder response drills.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? SROs are police officers, with no additional stated training.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? No persons are specifically authorized by statute to carry weapons, however, the school board can approve any legally qualified person to carry a weapon on school grounds.

Read more about Kansas school related legal statutes.

School crossing guard with kids

Kentucky

Overview and Resources

In 2020, the website for the Kentucky governor listed education clearly and prominently as a priority. Clicking on this link brings one to a page describing how important education is. However, school safety is only mentioned on the website as relates to the 2020 pandemic.

 

In 2019, Kentucky passed the School Safety and Resiliency Act. According to the Kentucky Department of Education, “This Act affected multiple statutes regarding school safety and student resiliency. These statutes impact education and many agencies that work with districts and schools. The new roles of District School Safety Coordinator and State School Security Marshal are established, along with the implementation of various trainings and responsibilities related to these roles.”

 

One part of this act was to create a school Safety Coordinator for each school. This person has a very long and important list of duties, including:

  • “complete the SSC training program within six months of appointment,
  • designate a school safety and security threat assessment team at each school consisting of two or more staff member to identify and respond to students exhibiting behavior that indicates a potential threat to school safety or security. Members may include school administrators, counselors, SROs, school-based mental health services providers, teachers, and other school personnel,
  • provide training to principals within the district on procedures for completion of the school security risk assessment,
  • review all school security risk assessments completed within the district and prescribe recommendations as needed in consultation with the state school security marshal,
  • advise the superintendent by July 1, 2021, and annually thereafter of completion of required security risk assessments,
  • formulate recommended policies/procedures (excluded from Open Records law) for an all-hazards approach including conducting emergency response drills for hostage, active shooter, and building lockdown situations in consultation and coordination with appropriate public safety agencies for review and adoption as part of school emergency plan required by KRS 158.162. The recommended policies shall encourage the involvement of students, as appropriate, in the development of the school’s emergency plan, and,
  • ensure each school campus is toured at least once per school year, in consultation and coordination with appropriate public safety agencies, to review policies and procedures and provide recommendations related to school safety and security.”

Kentucky also holds a School Safety Week each fall.

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? School, with law enforcement participation.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Annually
  • Are Safety Drills Required? Two drills are required each year; one must be during the first 30 days of the schoolyear, and the other must be in the month of January.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? An School Resource Officer must be a police officer with specialized training in working with youth.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? There is no specific mention of weapons being allowed in school in the legal statutes.

Read more about Kentucky school related legal statutes.

 

Louisiana

Overview and Resources

The Louisiana Department of Education has one of the most attractive and professional looking DOE websites in the country. However, on the home page is no mention of school safety. But a search of the site does bring up the Louisiana School and Campus Safety Planning Guide. This 18-page guide covers preparedness, response, and recovery for a variety of school issues, including telling how people can anonymously report potential issues they are aware of.

 

But when one searches “school safety in Louisiana”, a result that comes up in Google is the School Safety and Security Checklist. This looks interesting and promising, until one clicks it to find that it is a page on the DOE site that has nothing to do with school safety at all, but rather is an “Education Library” with resources about general school issues.

 

The government website does have a Louisiana School Safety pages that say they have learned many lessons from the events of Sandy Hook in 2012, though it is interesting that it doesn’t mention being updated after Parkland in 2018. It provides information on school emergency training and more.

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? School, with law enforcement participation.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Annually
  • Are Safety Drills Required? Yes, one within 30 days of the start of a new school year.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? SROs must be police officers with training in school violence prevention.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? School employees authorized by the school may carry a licensed weapon.

Read more about Louisiana school related legal statutes.

 

Maine

Overview and Resources

The Maine Department of Education website’s home page has easy access to resources on pandemic response and suicide prevention, but not general school safety section. However, a deeper dive into the website reveals a page on School Safety that covers:

 

  • Bullying
  • Managing dangerous chemicals
  • Playground safety
  • Resources in aftermath of tragedy at Sandy Hook
  • School security

 

Like Louisiana, it is interesting that the website mentions Sandy Hook in 2012, but not Parkland in 2018. Fortunately, in 2020 the DOE did update their safety procedures. In fact, they announced the formation of a new School Safety Center. According to one article, “The primary role of the MSSC is to provide training, guidance and technical support for all things school safety and security-related. The MSSC will initially provide six lanes of service:

  • Training
  • Mental Health and Threat Assessment
  • Site Assessment/climate assessment
  • Emergency Operations planning/exercise
  • School Resource Officer (policy and training)
  • Legislation and police review and recommendation”

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities, with law enforcement participation.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Updated annually
  • Are Safety Drills Required? Drills are required, but type and frequency vary by grade level.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? SROs are not specified in Maine legal statute.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? Possession of weapons is not specifically allowed in Maine schools.

Read more about Maine school related legal statutes.

Two kids studying

Maryland

Overview and Resources

A 2019 survey found that Maryland students do not feel safe. Specifically, “students on average rated their physical safety a 3.5 and their emotional safety a 5.4, on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the best score a school could get. Even worse, students at hundreds of schools throughout the state gave their school a 1 for physical safety.” This survey was six months after Maryland established the Center for School Safety.

 

Department of Education resources all seem to be 2017 and before, showing no significant change after the Parkland shooting, as many states had. However, Maryland does now have an anonymous hotline where students can report any suspicious activity.

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities, with law enforcement participation.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Annual drills must include evacuation, shelter in place, reverse evacuation, lockdown, and “drop, cover and hold”. Schedule is to be decided by each school.
  • Are Safety Drills Required? Yes, monthly.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? SROs must be police officers, training in de-escalation, disability awareness, school climate, diversity, and more.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? Only SRO officers are explicitly permitted to carry weapons.

Read more about Maryland school related legal statutes.

 

Massachusetts

Overview and Resources

In 2014, a task force presented a 26 page report on School Safety to the Massachusetts governor. This document is full of excellent resources and recommendations for maintaining safe schools, but it hasn’t been updated in at least six years, and doesn’t seem to appear anywhere on the government or DOE web page.

 

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education home page has no specific information on school safety. But a deeper dive into the site does pull up the Safe & Supportive School page. This page asserts that, “Providing a safe and supportive learning environment is a key to helping students develop essential skills and knowledge necessary for college and career readiness. A wide range of services and supports are needed to establish and maintain these learning environments. This web page outlines a number of Department of Elementary and Secondary Education programs and related resources that can help school districts and communities build safe and supportive learning environments for all students.” It then goes on to list sources on:

 

  • Emergency response management
  • Medical emergency response management
  • Physical restrain
  • Truancy
  • Discipline
  • Substance abuse
  • Support for LGBTQ students
  • Suicide awareness and prevention
  • And more

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities, with law enforcement participation.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Updated annually.
  • Are Safety Drills Required? None are specified.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? SROs should be police officers with “specialized training” in school environments.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? Only with written authorization of the school board.

Read more about Massachusetts school related legal statutes.

 

Michigan

Overview and Resources

One 2019 article suggested that Michigan is underprepared to fend off a potential mass shooting. According to the article, “While most schools have an emergency plan for armed intruders and other crises, they haven’t been required by the state to have a plan or to follow certain minimum standards”. However, schools will be required to have an emergency plan starting in 2020. The Michigan Department of Education home page has nothing on schools safety in summer 2020, other than pandemic response information.”

 

Searching the DOE website for “school safety” brings up a full page of information on school bus safety, but nothing on campus safety or security.

 

Fortunately, the Michigan State Police do have a School Safety Commission. “The School Safety Commission was created to review and provide recommendations to the Office of School Safety, including model practices for determining school safety measures.” Hopefully the focus will shift a bit in 2020, but given the amount of resources needed to manage the pandemic, other emergency response changes may be postponed.

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? No
  • Are Safety Drills Required? Three lockdown drills are required each year.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? Michigan school safety law does not specify SROs.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? A person licensed to carry a firearm, employed by the school, and authorized by the school may carry a weapon.

Read more about Michigan school related legal statutes.

 

Two boys reading

Minnesota

Overview and Resources

The Minnesota Department of Education does not have school safety as a top level menu item on its home page. However, if one hovers over “Students and Families”, there is a “Health and Safety” page. This page includes links to nutrition, discipline, healthy students, safe and supportive schools, and student maltreatment. Clicking “Safe and Supportive Schools” brings one to a page all about bullying. A pursual through this website might leave one thinking that Minnesota is not concerned about campus security and shooting threats.

 

Fortunately, according to MPR, in fall 2019 the state allocated $30 million for school safety. The money will be split among all districts, and is earmarked for school safety, disaster response, and bus riders with disabilities. In addition, the Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management department maintains a school safety website, which includes, a bit buried in tiny print, a nice newsletter. But the latest version of the newsletter was in September 2019; it was not even updated for pandemic response, so one has to question if it is timely and valuable.

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities, with law enforcement participation.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Updated annually
  • Are Safety Drills Required? Yes, five lockdown drills are required each year.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? SROs are not mentioned in the statute.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? No one is explicitly allowed by statute to carry weapons in school.

Read more about Minnesota school related legal statutes.

 

Mississippi

Overview and Resources

The Mississippi Department of Education home page’s only nod to school safety is in that it has Covid-19 information and resources, as of summer 2020. A deeper dive into the website brings us to the Safe and Orderly Schools page. While it sounds great on the surface, this is actually a page that says almost nothing except that they want schools to be safe. It does provide a phone number to confidentially report any concerns.

 

Elsewhere on the website there is another School Safety page. This one is more informative. It provides teacher resources for crime prevention lesson plans, youth emergency preparedness, and more.

 

In May of 2019, Mississippi leadership signed the School Safety Act of 2019 into law. Among other things, this law allows for changes in physical security, including enclosed courtyards, entrance buzzers, and more.

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Updated annually
  • Are Safety Drills Required? Yes, two annually
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? Mississippi specifies School Resource officers and School Safety Officers. The former is a trained police officer. The latter is a security guard or teacher with special training, who is not usually allowed to carry a weapon or make arrests.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? No one is specifically authorized to carry a weapon, but those with a concealed weapon permit may do so.

Read more about Mississippi school related legal statutes.

 

Missouri

Overview and Resources

The Missouri Department of Education home page has no mention of school safety, but under the Parents & Students tab there is an anti-bullying tab. Even a search on school safety through the DOE site brings up very little.

 

However, the Missouri Department of Public Safety has a website on School Safety. It’s basically a list of resources including the following:

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Not specifically, but the Missouri Safe Schools Act has some related requirements.
  • Are Safety Drills Required? One active shooter preparedness and intruder response drill is required each year.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? School protection officers are teacher or employee volunteers who get training in various juvenile issues.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? Protection officers may carry a weapon if they have a concealed weapon permit.

Read more about Missouri school related legal statutes.

 

Montana

Overview and Resources

In 2019, the governor of Montana signed a bill that would allow schools to add a tax specifically to improve school safety. As one article states: “Senate Bill 92 takes an expansive view on the topic, citing concepts from active shooter training to restorative justice, a disciplinary approach that shifts from punitive measures toward helping students reflect on their behavior and its consequences. The bill does not define all school safety uses, leaving it open to a school’s interpretation.

Schools would be able to use money from an automatic levy established in 2017 for building maintenance for anything under the umbrella of school safety. They could also offer a specific school safety levy to voters, and would be able to shift unbudgeted money from existing funds toward safety upgrades.”

In addition to this plan, Montana’s Office of Public Instruction (their version of a DOE), has school safety prominently listed on their web page. The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services also has a detailed school safety page that includes links to a school crisis guide and more.

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities, with law enforcement participation.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Updated annually
  • Are Safety Drills Required? Eight disaster and hazard drills must occur each year.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? Statute does not mention resource officers.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? No one is explicitly allowed to carry a gun, but district trustees may give permission to certain persons to carry concealed weapons.

Read more about Montana school related legal statutes.

 

Nebraska

Overview and Resources

School safety seems top of mind for many in Nebraska. In fact, in September of 2020, the Nebraska Council of School Administrators will hold a Nebraska School Safety and Security Summit, a virtual conference where administrators will discuss issues, have speakers, and focus specifically on school security.

The Department of Education has a link to the Governor’s School Safety Resources, which includes School Safety Task Force working groups, education, and more. One look at the DOE website also shows that school safety is a top priority as they list various resources on bullying and suicide, but also safety and security.

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities, with law enforcement participation.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Must be audited annually
  • Are Safety Drills Required? No drills are specified by statute.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? SROs are not mentioned in Nebraska law.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? Only police officers are explicitly allowed to carry weapons in school.

Read more about Nebraska school related legal statutes.

 

 

Nevada

Overview and Resources

 

When it comes to school health and safety policies, Nevada is working to make things better. In 2019, lawmakers voted to put millions of dollars towards schools safety initiatives. According to one educational leader, “we’re hoping with this multi-pronged approach, and by strengthening behavioral health in our schools, we can actually intervene earlier and de-escalate some of these kids”. This initiative will focus on mental health and prevention.

 

Nevada also has a School Safety Task Force. Their mission is, “to identify and recommend those school safety practices best suited for implementation in some or all of Nevada’s schools, recognizing that not all schools are similarly situated.” In addition, the governor’s website lists education as the top priority, and already lists five bills that have been presented in that area, including Bill 551 that funds safety initiatives, and Bill 89 that enhances the “SafeVoice” anonymous reporting program.

 

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities, with law enforcement participation.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Updated annually
  • Are Safety Drills Required? Yes, at least one per month with half of drills being lockdown drills.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? SROs are police officers, with no additional training specified.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? Only a police officer is explicitly allowed to carry a weapon, but others can be authorized by school authorities.

Read more about Nevada school related legal statutes.

Teacher in front of white board and students

New Hampshire

Overview and Resources

In 2019, New Hampshire leaders unveiled a new website that will help track school safety initiatives. This one-stop-shop website overviews 59 recommendations that came from the School Safety Preparedness Taskforce, after the 2018 Parkland shooting. The plan includes helping schools to pay for security upgrades.

 

In addition, New Hampshire has a School Safety Planning website that covers everything from weather disasters to violence. And the New Hampshire Department of Education maintains a School Safety web page, that, while not fancy, has a solid list of resources on bullying, funding, and general school safety.

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? School, with law enforcement participation.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Updated annually
  • Are Safety Drills Required? Five evacuation drills a year, two of which must be emergency response drills.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? School resource officers are not specified in the statute.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? Students are prohibited from possessing weapons in school, but no other mention of weapon permission exists in the statutes.

Read more about New Hampshire school related legal statutes.

 

New Jersey

Overview and Resources

A web search of “New Jersey school safety” brings up a plethora of sources, all from various New Jersey governmental departments.

 

While not directly linked to from their home page, the New Jersey Department of Education does have a School Preparedness and Emergency Planning website. According to their site, “Through the Department’s Office of School Preparedness & Emergency Planning (OSPEP) the goal is to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the school population by providing direct support to New Jersey’s schools in establishing safe and secure school environments and increasing their capacity to respond in the event of crises.”  Highlights on the site include links to various federal reports and emergency management toolkits. Also on the website is the School Safety Center, which provides checklists, assistance with planning drills, and more.

 

The education tab of the New Jersey government website also links to a School Security website that is brief, but provides links to information on school security, the Department of Education, anti-gang sources, and more.

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities, with law enforcement participation.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Updated annually
  • Are Safety Drills Required? One safety drill per month.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? SROs must be trained by the police in various student issues including bullying and intimidation.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? Only persons with written authorization from the school are allowed to carry weapons in school.

Read more about New Jersey school related legal statutes.

School hallway with lockers

New Mexico

Overview and Resources

In fall of 2017, the New Mexico Public Education department put out a 279 page report on Planning for Safe Schools in New Mexico, the purpose of which was to, “provide straightforward, current and relevant information and recommendations to schools in New Mexico for effective emergency operations planning.” Just two months later, three people died in a school shooting in Aztec, New Mexico. Then, the Parkland, Florida, one of the most famous school shootings in history would occur. The state reacted.

 

In 2018, the state legislature awarded millions of dollars to 222 school campuses around the state to complete physical security upgrades, reaffirming their commitment to school security.

Equality New Mexico has also taken up the gauntlet to help prevent school violence, and maintains a comprehensive website of actions and resources.

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Not required.
  • Are Safety Drills Required? Schools must hold one drill each week for the first four weeks of the school year, then one drill a month after that. Two of these drills must be shelter in place and one must be evacuation.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? School resource officers are not specified in legal statute.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? Only police officers are specifically allowed to carry weapons.

Read more about New Mexico school related legal statutes.

 

 

New York

Overview and Resources

The New York State Education Department has no easily visible link to school safety, other than pandemic management. But news articles show that school safety is top of mind. As of early 2020, the police departments were responsible for school security and safety, in that they hire, train, and supervise school safety agents. However, in summer 2020 it was proposed that the supervision of these safety agents would move from the police department to the department of education, a move not supported by many. As one police union leader put it, the Board of Education was in charge of safety prior to 1998, and it didn’t go well – the union is strongly against this change. Proponents, however, feel that having the officers directly responsible to the school is better.

 

In the meantime, the Department of Education is working their program, New York State Safe Schools Against Violence in Education (SAVE), which is a commitment to promoting safe learning, including providing guidance to school officials and various resources. New York also has the Center for School Safety. According to the website:

 

“In cooperation and collaboration with the New York State Education Department/Office of Student Support ServicesMeasurement Incorporated operates the New York State Center for School Safety. The Center offers a statewide professional development and technical assistance center providing direct support to schools and districts in creating and maintaining safe and healthy learning environments for all New York State students.”

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities, with law enforcement participation.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Updated annually
  • Are Safety Drills Required? Eight evacuation drills and four lockdown drills per year; eight between school start and December 31 each year.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? There is a vague requirement that officers be trained in collaboration with the school they will serve.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? Only with written authorization from school authorities.

Read more about New York school related legal statutes.

 

North Carolina

Overview and Resources

The North Carolina governor shows a dedication to education by having the topic clearly on the list of government issues. In addition, the governor proposed raises for teachers, and emphasizes a focus on safety noting, “too many tragedies have taken place at our nation’s schools. Governor Cooper is committed to keeping students and schools safe. He has proposed more funding to update school facilities, hire more nurses, counselors, and mental health professionals in schools, and increase funding for school resource officers, along with common sense gun legislation.”

 

The Department of Education echoes this commitment with their home page linking to the Say Something Anonymous Reporting System, which references the Sandy Hook 2012 shooting (with no mention of Parkland in 2018), and provides a way for anonymous reporting of concerning behavior to be rolled out in 2020.

 

In addition, the state has rolled out a series of web-based apps designed to make it easier for schools to put together risk management plans and access resources.

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities, with law enforcement participation.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Updated annually
  • Are Safety Drills Required? Yes, one tabletop exercise with lockdown drill per year.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? Volunteer officers who are previous police serve is SROs.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? Only by SROs.

Read more about North Carolina school related legal statutes.

 

Kids taking a test

North Dakota

Overview and Resources

The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction, their version of a DOE, does not mention safety anywhere obvious on the website. It is not mentioned on the home page, parents page, or policy page, as of summer 2020. However, a Google search does bring up the School Safety page, which has a very thorough list of clickable links including:

  • Bullying
  • Drills
  • Persistently dangerous
  • School climate assessments
  • School crisis planning
  • School resource officers
  • School safety patrols
  • Even more

 

As of this article being written in early 2020, North Dakota did not require school safety plans. However, in late 2019, the senate passed a providing funding and guidance to schools and requiring them to create plans.

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Not as of mid-2020, but coming soon
  • Are Safety Drills Required? Yes, but no type or frequency specified
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? No
  • Are weapons allowed in school? SROs may have weapons.

Read more about North Dakota school related legal statutes.

 

Ohio

Overview and Resources

While it’s not easily found on its Department of Education website, in 2019 Ohio launched its Ohio School Safety Center (OSSC). A special division of the Ohio Department of Homeland Security, OSSC will “will assist local schools and law enforcement in preventing, preparing for, and responding to threats and acts of violence, including self-harm, through a holistic, solutions-based approach to improving school safety.”

 

Among the initiatives of the OSSC will be:

  • Promoting and expanding the SaferOH Tips Line
  • Proactively watching social media and websites to identify potential issues
  • Reviewing emergency management plans for schools
  • Hosting an annual school safety summit

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities, with law enforcement participation.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Updated annually
  • Are Safety Drills Required? Three drills per year, including one lockdown drill
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? Must be a police officer, with basic police training as well as an additional 40 hours of SRO training.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? Yes, SROs and anyone else authorized by the school board may carry a weapon.

Read more about Ohio school related legal statutes.

 

Oklahoma

Overview and Resources

A web search in summer 2020 might give one the impression that Oklahoma has not made school safety a priority. Simply put: very few search results come up. One of the top results, however, is an article about how recent mass shootings have propelled safety to the top of the list for Oklahoma school administrators, yet severe funding disparities exist. This article points out how some school districts have recently and significantly updated their physical security, yet many school districts have been left behind.

 

Looking at the Oklahoma State Department of Education, though, one can see the Oklahoma is on top of things. On the home page is mention of their pandemic response, addressing racism, and the need for inclusion. By clicking Services, one can quickly link to two pages on school security: School Safety and Security and Safe and Healthy Schools. It seems these might best be put together to avoid confusion with the similar titles, but in short, the former discusses the Office of School Safety and Security and its mission to empower school staff. The latter focusses on school health, nutrition, safety, and other activities in the schools.

 

In addition, the government website for the state maintains a thorough website on school safety, which includes new school drill reporting requirements for the 2019-2020 school year and beyond.

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Each school.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Updated annually
  • Are Safety Drills Required? Exactly two drills each semester, with at least one in the first 15 days of the school year.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? Only that they be a police officer.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? Only those authorized by the school district board.

Read more about Oklahoma school related legal statutes.

Smiling boy in school

Oregon

Overview and Resources

When searching Oregon, a great many school safety resources and web pages pop up. Even the Oregon Department of Education has a banner at the top of their homepage in the summer of 2020 that reads: Ready Schools, Safe Learners. It is likely that this focusses mostly on keeping kids safe during the Covid-19 pandemic, but the website does have sources specific to school safety from violence and other issues.

 

One great source is the 16-page document, Oregon Task Force on School Safety. This document introduces the Oregon Safer to Learn Act, a statewide safety and prevention program, which maintains the website SafeOregon, that among other things gives kids a place to get resources, help, and to report concerns.

 

In addition, the Oregon State Police have an Oregon Task Force on School Safety. According to the website, “Oregon Legislators created the Task Force on School Safety in 2014, bringing together policymakers from the Governor’s office, Legislature, education, law enforcement, fire and rescue and public mental health to collectively focus on strengthening safety in Oregon schools. Since then, the Task Force has worked diligently and collaboratively to share collective expertise, perspective and resources and to identify effective, sustainable school safety strategies.”

 

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities, with law enforcement participation.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Updated annually
  • Are Safety Drills Required? Yes, two per year including: lockdown, lockout, shelter in place, and evacuation.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? Oregon School safety law has no required training for SROs.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? Peace officers are allowed weapons, as are those with a concealed carry permit.

Read more about Oregon school related legal statutes.

 

Pennsylvania

Overview and Resources

The Pennsylvania Department of Education is focused on student safety. Their website is full of pandemic response information. But also, just two clicks into the site is their School Safety page. This page covers a variety of important topics in the Pennsylvania school system, including:

  • Bullying prevention
  • Equity and inclusion
  • School laws
  • Emergency planning
  • School climate
  • Mental health

 

The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) also has a very well designed and informative site on school safety. According to their website, “PSBA supports common sense efforts to help our schools in safety matters while emphasizing that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to providing safe school environments. School districts are vastly different throughout Pennsylvania in their security needs and, therefore, the best approaches to school safety must often be determined at the local school district level. The state must prioritize the protection of students and school employees from acts of violence by providing schools with continued and long-term funding, assistance and flexible options that best meet the needs of their communities to provide safe and secure school environments.”

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? No
  • Are Safety Drills Required? Yes, one in the first ninety days of the schoolyear, then two more security drills and two fire drills after that.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? School Police Officers have police training. School Security Guards have no specified training.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? No one is explicitly allowed to carry a gun.

Read more about Pennsylvania school related legal statutes.

 

Rhode Island

Overview and Resources

The Rhode Island Department of Education has a very detailed website, if a little cluttered and hard to click through. It’s not easy to click through menus and find much on safety, but a search for “school safety” on the site does bring up links to:

School safety also seems to be a significant concern for the State of Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency. They offer information on developing school safety plans, training, and a variety of resources.

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities, with law enforcement participation.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Updated and audited annually
  • Are Safety Drills Required? Yes, monthly emergency egress drills, then semi-annual evacuation and lockdown drills.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? A police officer with at least 40 hours in specialized school training.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? Those with a concealed carry permit may carry.

Read more about Rhode Island school related legal statutes.

 

South Carolina

Overview and Resources

In 2018, South Carolina lawmakers passed a bi-partisan bill on school education. One lawmaker indicated that, “the bill was prompted by learning that ride inspections were not required under South Carolina law, as well as the school shootings that have occurred in other states.” A major emphasis of the law was ensuring that each school had a strong, individualized school safety plan in place.

 

Just two clicks into the South Carolina Department of Education website leads one to the School Safety page. This page has a variety of links in the following categories, among others:

 

  • Health & Safety – links to Covid-19 resources, fireworks safety, etc.
  • Safe Schools – links to active shooter resources, internet safety standards, and a guide by the U.S. Secret Service for enhancing school safety.
  • Anti-Bullying Resources – links to information on cyber bullying and more.
  • Suicide Prevention Resources – links to a national hotline and other resources.

 

 

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Not specified.
  • Are Safety Drills Required? Yes, two active shooter / intruder drills per year.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? Police officers who has completed school resource officer training.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? Only if they are a police officer or have written permission from the school.

Read more about South Carolina school related legal statutes and regulations.

 

 

South Dakota

Overview and Resources

Do a search for South Dakota school safety, and most of the top ten results focus on new stories about South Dakota receiving a few million dollars in federal grant money to improve safety in their schools. Meant to help strengthen the safety in K-12 schools, the money will be spent to strengthen violence prevention, threat assessment procedures, and threat recognition.

 

This is not clearly mentioned on the South Dakota department of Education website. In fact, the website is a bit sparse and not very informative. The menus, as of summer 2020, didn’t work very well, and there is no easy to find information on school safety, aside from pandemic response.

 

Buried within the site is a page on School Safety, but it is sparse, offering just some resources, trainings, and contact information.

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Not specified
  • Are Safety Drills Required? No drills are required
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? South Dakota has school sentinels, which are armed school employees who receive firearms and sentinel training, and pass a background check.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? Anyone authorized as a school sentinel.

Read more about South Dakota school related legal statutes.

 

Tennessee

Overview and Resources

A search for school safety in Tennessee brings up very few sources. The Governor’s website as of summer 2020 did not have school safety mentioned anywhere on the main home page, nor is education even on the priorities list.

 

The Tennessee Department of Education website has very little other than pandemic response on their homepage, but only two clicks in is the School Safety page. This page has an extensive list of links to pages on:

 

  • Bullying and Harassment
  • School Health
  • Internet Safety
  • Safe Schools Training
  • Mental Health Support
  • School Climate
  • School Safety
  • Covid-19
  • And much more!

 

Diving into these links brings up the Schools Against Violence in Education page, the Safe Schools Act, and information on training School Safety Specialists.

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Not required
  • Are Safety Drills Required? One armed intruder drill per year
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? Must be a law enforcement officer who must complete a school policing class.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? Only SROs may carry a weapon.

Read more about Tennessee school related legal statutes.

 

College students having team meeting

Texas

Overview and Resources

The website of the Texas governor does list education as one of his priorities, but school safety is not on the description of his platform. However, in 2019 the governor did sign a bill, in the wake of a shooting at a Santa Fe High School, designed to, “strengthen mental health initiatives available to children, abolish the cap on how many school marshals can carry guns on public school campuses and allot money to school districts that can go toward “hardening” their campuses.”

 

This bill, Senate Bill 11, will, “A sweeping school safety measureSenate Bill 11, instructs school districts to implement multihazard emergency operation plans, requires certain training for school resource officers, ensures school district employees — including substitute teachers — are trained to respond to emergencies, and establishes threat assessment teams to help identify potentially dangerous students and determine the best ways to intervene before they become violent.”

 

In addition to the bill and the work of the governor, the office of the Attorney General of Texas also has a School Safety website, which provides resources for schools and parents.

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Updated annually and audited by local entity every three years
  • Are Safety Drills Required? None specified
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? The school marshal must be a police officer, but only require additional training in school policing if they work in a district of more than 30,000 students
  • Are weapons allowed in school? Yes, by school marshals.

Read more about Texas school related legal statutes.

 

Utah

Overview and Resources

In early 2019, Utah lawmakers passed a school safety bill that provided some resources and security for schools, but less money and protection than many had hoped for. To judge from news articles on the topic, politics factored heavily into the bill, leaving many voters and parents unhappy with the result.

 

But the Utah State Board of Education does have a very clear and prominent link to school safety on their home page. This page lists nine priorities including positive school culture, mitigating school violence, prevention programs, crisis management, digital safety, and more. They also have posted a one page, at a glance document of the main focus of the Board of Education, which includes a brief discussion of School Resource Officers.

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities, with law enforcement participation.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Updated every three years
  • Are Safety Drills Required? Yes, one per month alternating between fire drill, shelter in place, lockdown, bomb threat, civil disturbance, and more.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? Must be a police officer who has completed state board of education required training.
  • Are weapons allowed in school? Yes, anyone with permission from the school or with a concealed carry permit.

Read more about Utah school related legal statutes.

 

 

Vermont

Overview and Resources

A search of school safety in Vermont brings up little at first. The Governor’s page has little on education, but a brief mention of education from an economic perspective, though it does have a page on school safety. The page reads: “Vermont is currently one of the healthiest and safest states in America. We also have some of the best and safest schools in the country.” There is, however, quite a lot of good information on this page. Specifically, it talks about:

 

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Not specified
  • Are Safety Drills Required? Yes, monthly.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? No language in the statute
  • Are weapons allowed in school? Yes, if authorized by the school board

Read more about Vermont school related legal statutes.

Cartoon picture of books on a computer

Virginia

Overview and Resources

A web search of school safety in Virginia brings up a number of pages for surveys and safety initiatives at the Virginia Department of Education; however, most of those pages come up with a “page not found” error. While the DOE doesn’t have safety in education noticeably displayed on their website, a search of the site does bring up the Division & School Safety page. This page brings up talking points for discussing violence with children, and an assertion that keeping schools safe and secure involves the following:

  • Prevention – actions schools take to prevent an emergency incident
  • Protection – steps taken to secure schools against manmade or natural disasters and acts of violence
  • Mitigation – actions taken to eliminate or reduce the loss of school property and life by lessening the impact of an emergency
  • Response – steps taken to stabilize an emergency once it has occurred
  • Recovery – actions taken to restore the learning environment

 

The site does then provide a significant list of various safety links and information.

 

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Updated and audited by school annually
  • Are Safety Drills Required? Two lockdown drills in first 20 days of school, then two more after
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? Law enforcement officer with no special training except basic first aid
  • Are weapons allowed in school? SROs are authorized if they have firearm training

Read more about Virginia school related legal statutes.

 

Washington

Overview and Resources

The website for the Washington State Board of Education does not have any clearly visible information on K-12 school safety. But the Washington State Department of Health has a School Environmental Health and Safety page. This site provides information and resources for air quality, biological issues, career and technical education, contaminants, facilities and construction, playgrounds and fields, rules and regulations, and finally student health and safety – this last section covers emergency preparedness, including weather and other emergencies.

 

The state also has the Washington School Safety Organization, a combined effort of DARE officers, school resource officers, school security officers, and educators. Each year this organization holds an annual conference that brings together trainers and experts from around the country to discuss current trends and topics in school, and ways to keep the community informed.

 

Another organization that Washington has is the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. This web site has a page on school safety. According to the site, “The School Safety Center provides resources to districts and schools to help in the development of high-quality emergency operations and safety plans.” This site includes a comprehensive safety planning toolkit, resources on school-based threats, and more.

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities, with law enforcement participation.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Updated annually
  • Are Safety Drills Required? Yes, monthly.
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? None specified
  • Are weapons allowed in school? Anyone employed in school security with firearms training may have a weapon.

Read more about Washington school related legal statutes.

Back end of a school bus

West Virginia

Overview and Resources

When searching West Virginia, one finds a plethora of resources and websites on the topic of school safety. West Virginia Safe Schools holds an annual summit on school safety. A cooperative of the West Virginia State Police, West Virginia Department of Education, West Virginia Center for Professional Development, and West Virginia School Building Authority, this initiative provides a variety of resources for schools and parents.

 

The West Virginia Department of Education has an extensive school safety page that includes a safe school helpline and suicide prevention hotline. It also has a variety of resources on policies and laws, crisis prevention including templates, threat assessments, and more.

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? School, with law enforcement participation.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Updated annually
  • Are Safety Drills Required? None specified
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? Prevention resource officers must be police officers, but no additional training specified
  • Are weapons allowed in school? Yes if they are a prevention resource officer or have school permission

Read more about West Virginia school related legal statutes.

 

Wisconsin

Overview and Resources

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (their version of a DOE) doesn’t list school security on their main web page. However, a search of the site pulls up the safe schools page. This provides links to a variety of information, including the Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools, the Safe and Healthy Schools Training & Technical Assistance Center,  the Department of Justice’s Office of School Safety, and the OSS’s School Safety Framework.

 

The DOE website mentioned above runs the Speak Up, Speak Out threat reporting system which, “provides communities with a centralized safety tool, available at no cost to schools. It’s a one-stop resource for threat assessment consultation, critical incident response, and general school safety guidance.” Finally, the website provides access to a variety of training for school officials.

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities, with law enforcement participation.
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Updated every three years
  • Are Safety Drills Required? Evacuation drills twice per year
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? No language about SROs
  • Are weapons allowed in school? No one is specifically authorized to carry a weapon

Read more about Wisconsin school related legal statutes.

 

Wyoming

Overview and Resources

In 2019 the Wyoming legislature took up a vote to standardize school security procedures across the state; it was narrowly defeated. According to one article, “The failure of the bill Friday means that the Education Committee will enter the legislative session with no security legislation in hand. School safety was not one of the six topics assigned to the committee to consider during this interim”. The reason the bill failed is, reportedly, that most school principals said they already had a safety plan, thus lawmakers felt such an initiative was unnecessary.

 

To better understand the topic the Wyoming Department of Education conducted a survey in 2019. However, the reporting of results was not met with any clear results or recommendations, and some language seemed to imply that there was not clear problem with school security. The DOE has few safety resources clearly posted on their website. A search brings up an old 2013 safety .pdf.

At a Glance

  • School Safety Plan Required? Yes
  • Who is Responsible for Creating the Plan? Local entities
  • How Often Must the Plan be audited and updated? Not specified
  • Are Safety Drills Required? None specified
  • Is Training Required for School Resource Officers? No language about SROs
  • Are weapons allowed in school? No one is specifically authorized to carry a weapon

Read more about Wyoming school related legal statutes.

 

 

Learn More

 

The Education Commission of the United States is a non-profit organization that works to conduct research, provide support, educate, and acknowledge people, schools, and school systems that make great strides in education. This commission asserts that it is, “the trusted source for comprehensive knowledge and unbiased resources on education policy issues ranging from early learning through postsecondary education.”

Education Commission logo

If you need to learn more about school safety law in any state, check out their informative website, specifically the section that provides a profile of school safety policy for every state in the union, as well as DC.

 

Concerned about security in your school?

 

Keeping children safe while they learn should be a top issue of concern no matter where you live. By reading articles like this – and implementing what you learn – you, as a school leader or supporter, can help keep kids safe. Check out the very detailed site “Campus Safety: Hospital / School / University” to check out news stories, sign up for a webinar, and more.

 

You can also check out our curated selection of sources for school safety and security articles.

 

At Guardian Booth, we do our share to help schools keep their students and staff safe by providing school booths for your security guards. These school booth design ideas can help inspire thoughts about how you want to customize your school’s security booth, based on the size of your campus, student body, and some other factors.

 

Learn more about how to prevent school shootings and how a security guard booth can help keep your campus safe.

 

Contact us to learn more about how we can customize a security guard booth for your school.

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