TRENTON – Two pieces of legislation sponsored by Senator Patrick Diegnan improving school security measures which include design plans and training drills cleared the Senate Education Committee today.
“These bills are about putting safety first,” said Senator Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “Making sure the schools that house our children and educators are built emergency ready is vital. Furthermore, the individuals inside that structure should be practicing safety through drills and other techniques and collaborating with emergency responders to ensure that responses will be carried out in the best way possible. Emergency situations can happen any place at any time, which is why preparation is so crucial.”
The first bill, S-2438 would revise current law on school security drills. It would require all employees in school districts and nonpublic schools be provided with annual training on school safety and security. The training would be conducted collaboratively by the district or nonpublic school and emergency responders in order to identify weaknesses in school safety and security procedures and to increase the effectiveness of emergency responders.
The bill would also require that a law enforcement officer be present at a minimum of one school security drill in each school year in order to make recommendations on any improvements or changes to school security drill procedures that the officer may deem advisable.
Under current laws school safety and security training with emergency responders is only provided once to certificated staff members.
The second bill, S-2439, would require any new school construction undertaken by a district or the development authority to include the Best Practices Standards for Schools under Construction; which can include that wherever possible, a building site should be chosen with adequate space to accommodate bus and vehicular traffic separately and permit additional space for the proper evacuation of occupants. Furthermore, including that there is a single public entrance to be used during the school day which shall be equipped with a security vestibule with interior doors that must be released by school security or other staff. The district or development authority shall give consideration to providing bullet resistant glazing in the interior vestibule doors and windows.
S-2439 and S-2438 both cleared the committee unanimously and will next head to the full Senate for further consideration.