Alabama lawmakers release plan for enhanced school security

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) – The Alabama legislature has released the Alabama School Security and Student Teacher Safety Report. The seven page report contains several recommendations for actions state lawmakers can take to improve safety in Alabama schools.

Several violent incidents at schools in the U.S. have ignited discussions about school safety across the county, from the White House to meeting rooms of school systems around the U.S.

In the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012, House Speaker Mike Hubbard called a joint hearing of the Alabama House and Senate Education Policy Committee. 20 students and six faculty members were killed after a gunman opened fire inside the school.

After the January 9th hearings, which included several presentations from state education officials and law enforcement agencies, the Alabama School Security and Student Safety Report was developed.

The report include several recommendations in the form of legislation to enhance safety in Alabama’s public schools.

House Bill 91, sponsored by Rep. Alan Baker (R – Brewton) would require schools to perform “Code Red” drills once a semester during the first six weeks of each semester. The drills would be based on active shooter & intruder scenarios.

According to the report, only 35% of schools currently hold such drills, but the legislation would require every school to take part in the exercise.

House Bill 105, sponsored by Rep. Alan Baker (R – Brewton) would address school bus safety.

On January 29, 2013 a five-year-old boy was kidnapped and held hostage for several days in Midland City, Alabama. He was taken from a schools bus. The bus driver was shot and killed. HB 105 would create a new crime for trespassing on schools buses.

House Bill 612, sponsored by Rep. Allen Treadaway (R – Morris), would authorize the Alabama Public School and College Authority to sell and issue up to $50 million in bonds to allow local school systems to purchase electronic security equipment.

A survey by the School Superintendents Association of Alabama, revealed startling realities about the state of security in Alabama schools.

According to the survey:

46% of teachers cannot lock classroom doors from the inside

71% of schools cannot monitor all exterior doors from a central location

96% of schools cannot lock all exterior doors from a central location.

Additional measures include: an active shooter preparation course in all Alabama public schools, increased funding for Virtual Alabama and active shooter training for law enforcement, (virtual Alabama is a computer based program that includes 3D imagery of buildings in the state.) a resolution to improve mental health support services in schools and regular meetings of School Safety Task Force.

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