Supporting school safety initiatives

We owe it to every Michigan child to help provide them with a safe and secure environment to learn and succeed.

The Michigan Senate recently approved comprehensive legislation designed to help keep students safe. These measures would ensure that our schools and communities have the necessary resources, effective technology and proper training to best protect our students and teachers.

Senate Bill 982 would create the Office of School Safety within the state police to update school safety practices, offer staff training and oversee use of school safety grants. SB 983 would require schools to conduct a safety assessment with local law enforcement by the 2019-20 school year — and at least every two years thereafter.

We need to make sure that all of our schools have the enhanced security in place to protect students and teachers. Security improvements, training and preparation are all critical to protecting our schools. This package would ensure our schools have updated safety plans and that both school staff and law enforcement know what to do in an emergency.

Additional measures in the Senate-passed school safety plan include:

  • Requiring schools to anonymously report thwarted incidents of attempted acts of violence on school grounds or threats of violence made on or off school grounds;
  • Developing statewide training standards for active-violence situations in schools;
  • Ensuring schools work with local law enforcement on new construction or upgrades to school buildings;
  • Permanently extending the OK2SAY program; and
  • Requiring a school’s governing body, at least twice a year, to provide the state police with the emergency contact information of a school official who would receive information submitted through the OK2SAY hotline — and any accompanying state police analysis of a potential threat — 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

In addition to these long-term solutions to protect Michigan students and teachers, the recent budget agreement invests $58 million into school safety initiatives, such as improving access to mental health programs, enhancing OK2SAY awareness and securing our schools.

OK2SAY enables students to report tips by phone, text message, and email, and through a website or an app. In 2017, the program received 4,605 tips, an increase of 37 percent from 2016.

SBs 957-959, 982-983 and 990-991 were sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.