State Rep. David Martin has joined a bipartisan effort to improve the safety of students at schools throughout Michigan.
Martin, of Davison, is co-sponsoring a K-12 school safety plan that carries out the recommendations of a legislative task force formed in the wake of the Oxford school tragedy. The legislation was submitted to the House enrolling clerks last Thursday and was slated to be introduced this week before the horrific events unfolded Monday night at Michigan State University.
“No parent should have to worry about whether their son or daughter is safe while they sit in class each day,” Martin said. “But after the horrific shooting at Oxford High School and again this week with the horrible events that unfolded at Michigan State University, people’s sense of security has been shattered. School safety and the mental health needs of our young people have to be top of mind.”
Following the Oxford school shooting, the bipartisan task force met with teachers, administrators, parents, law enforcement, mental health professionals, and other experts to identify policy solutions that could help prevent future acts of violence against students and teachers. The task force released its report last December.
The plan introduced this week is designed to organize a unified approach to school safety and student mental health with communication, training, personnel, and more.
The package would:
- Establish the School Safety and Mental Health Commission. This commission would identify best practices for schools to address behavioral, physical, and mental health needs. The commission would support at-risk students and work to reduce youth suicides by establishing a comprehensive statewide approach.
- Dedicate school staff to student safety and mental health. Each intermediate school district will receive funding to hire one safety and security coordinator and one mental health coordinator. These new staff would serve as points of contact for school safety plans, grant opportunities, and mental health and security strategies. They would maintain communication between the state and school districts within the ISD, while also facilitating communication between other school districts in their region.
- Plan for safety. Schools would be required to review and update their safety plans every three years in consultation with their ISD-level safety coordinator, and statewide standards would guide the implementation of modern security measures for school buildings.
- Expand and improve OK2SAY. Contact information for the OK2Say confidential tip line would be placed on school ID cards for easy student access. Reporting and tips received by OK2Say would be passed on to the ISD coordinators and local law enforcement; reporting and tips would also be provided quarterly to the School Safety and Mental Health Commission. Higher standards and new reporting definitions for OK2SAY would also be adopted.
- Improve responses to school safety crises. The plan would require the Michigan State Police to provide uniform, comprehensive school safety and security training for school resource officers and all staff at Michigan schools. It would also create uniform definitions statewide for school safety terms, such as lockdowns, to foster better communication during crisis events. Other provisions would add more active-shooter drills and ensure at least one drill includes local law enforcement involvement and one is conducted between classes.
Martin noted that although the legislation specifically addresses K-12 schools, the Legislature should explore additional ways to protect colleges, improve access to mental health services, and harden “gun-free” zones.
The plan, laid out in House Bills 4088-4100, has been referred to the House Education Committee for consideration.
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