/Mississippi School Safety Act’ on the way to House floor, requires active shooter drills

Mississippi School Safety Act’ on the way to House floor, requires active shooter drills

Nonprofit Mississippi News On Thursday, a bill that lawmakers believe is essential to ensure safety in schools for Mississippi children passed the first hurdle. House Bill 1283 would establish the “Mississippi School Safety Act of 2019”, something Gov. Phil Bryant, a former governor of Mississippi, urged the Legislature earlier this year to pass House Bill 1283 in his State of the State address. Bryant stated that schools once were a safe haven for security but have now become a hotbed of violence. Bryant stated, “To help our students and teachers, I will ask for you to pass an extensive plan to keep our children safe.” Schools would have to conduct active shooter drills within two months of every semester. This legislation is yet another attempt by the Legislature at school safety. Last year, a bill which would have allowed teachers in classrooms to carry guns was killed in the House. The bill, also known as the Mississippi School Safety Act (or simply the Mississippi School Safety Act), would have allowed districts the ability to designate teachers or other public school employees to receive specialized concealed weapon training in order to allow them to carry guns on K-12 campuses. Three pilot programs would be established in six districts by the 2019 bill to teach elementary school students how to manage stress and anxiety. This training would be provided by the Mississippi Department of Mental Health. The program would be offered every two years and would include refresher training for school staff and personnel. The Department of Mental Health will also offer online training to school personnel on how to conduct student behavioral health screenings. Rep. Joel Bomgar (Republican from Madison) proposed an amendment to make active shooter training mandatory for students. He said that the experience could be too scary. Bomgar stated that it makes sense to train teachers and administrators as well as all those responsible for protecting the children’s safety. “If administrators and teachers knew what to do, then I would be for them to practice that drill even if the students aren’t there,” Bomgar said. Those who presented the bill disagreed. House education chairman Rep. Richard Bennett (R-Long Beach) said, “We live in a world where unfortunately these kinds of things have to happen and schools are responsible.” As he introduced the bill, Rep. Mark Baker, R.Brandon, reminded House members that in 1997, a 16 year old student shot and killed two people at Pearl High School and injured others. Baker stated, “I trust the school districts, the Department of Education, to implement a program that (does not traumatize that kid but educates that child’s teacher, administrator, and protects them, as well as others.” The full House can now vote on the bill.