Gov. Lee signs school safety bill aimed at preventing school shootings
The bill requires newly built or renovated schools to have bullet proof glass and doors.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) – Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed a school safety bill aimed at preventing school shootings on Wednesday.
The bill, which calls for enhanced security measures at all Tennessee schools, passed through the state legislature in April and was sent to Lee’s desk to sign. The bill invests $230 million to strengthen safety at public and private schools across Tennessee and places several new requirements on schools to stop another school shooting. Gov. Bill Lee introduced the bill after six people, including three children, were killed at The Covenant School in Nashville on March 27.
“Nothing is more important than Tennessee students and teachers returning home from school safely each day,” Gov. Lee said in a media release. “Every year since 2019, we’ve worked with the General Assembly to prioritize school safety, and this year, we’ve passed significant measures to fund an armed SRO for every public school, enhance mental health support and boost physical security at public and private schools across Tennessee.”
The bill requires all schools built or remodeled after July 1 to have bulletproof windows and doors. An armed security guard will also be placed at every public school, according to the bill. The safety bill enacts a multi-tiered accountability plan to ensure exterior doors are locked while students are present, according to a media release from the governor’s office.
The bill also increases mental health resources and for every public and private school to make annual safety plans. Additionally, a state-level safety team will be established by The Commissioner of Safety, which will include a representative from The Department of Education and the following agencies:
- Homeland Security
- Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services
- Department of Health
- State Board of Education
- Tennessee Association of School Resource Officers
- Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
- Tennessee Sheriffs Association
- Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police
The bill also changes how armed intruder drills are conducted in schools. The bill will require each school safety team, private school, and church-related school do at least one of the following each year:
- Armed intruder drill, conducted in coordination with the appropriate local law enforcement agency
- Incident command drill without students present to prepare school staff and law enforcement agencies on what to expect in the event of an emergency situation in the school
- Emergency safety bus drill without students present to prepare school staff and law enforcement agencies on what to expect in the event of an emergency situation on a school bus
“Governor Lee and my colleagues in the General Assembly have made great strides on school safety over the years,” Lt. Gov. Randy McNally said the release. “But more needed to be done and we answered that call this session. Hardening security at our public and private schools is no longer just a priority, it is an imperative. The safety of our schools is of paramount importance, and I am grateful we were in the financial position to quickly allocate the funds for these improvements. I would like to thank Governor Lee for bringing the legislation and Leader Johnson and Chairman Lundberg for shepherding it through the Senate. This historic investment makes clear our state’s commitment to keeping our schools safe.”
The bill passed through the legislature with bipartisan support, as lawmakers faced some Tennesseans who demanded safer schools and gun reform after The Covenant School shooting.
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