The Georgia Senate passed SB 15, the “Keeping Georgia’s Schools Safe Act,” to ensure the safety of Georgia’s students while at school. Sponsored by Senate Public Safety Committee Chairman John Albers (R-Alpharetta), SB 15 will improve procedures for establishing school safety plans and strengthen lines of communication between state agencies and local authorities to better assess threats to school safety.
“We recognize that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all fix to threats to school safety, but we are taking the steps necessary to ensure that every school in Georgia is safe,” said Albers. “We want students to feel safe in the classroom and for parents to feel reassured when they drop their children off at school. By planning ahead, conducting threat assessments and strengthening security procedures, Georgia’s students will be safer.”
The Keeping Georgia’s Schools Safe Act will require public schools to complete threat assessments of facilities to help prepare and maintain school safety plans. The bill also clarifies that drills for fire, weather, acts of violence and acts of terrorism must occur at least time each school year.
SB 15 establishes the duties of school safety coordinators, positions to be filled by school principals or someone designated by the principal. The bill also sets up methods for the Georgia Department of Education, the Georgia Emergency Management & Homeland Security Agency (GEMA/HS), the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Georgia Information Sharing Analysis Center (GISAC) to communicate with school safety coordinators to implement best practices and potential security improvements.
“We must connect the dots to keep our students safe and this legislation encourages just that,” said Albers. “Gov. Brian Kemp has expressed his unwavering support for strengthening school security measures and I hope the Keeping Georgia’s Schools Safe Act will find continued support moving forward. I appreciate my Senate colleagues who voted to support safer schools in Georgia.”
The Keeping Georgia’s Schools Safe Act directs GISAC to maintain the “See Something, Send Something” smartphone app, which allows individuals to report suspicious, unsafe or unlawful activity to local law enforcement. The legislation also requires GEMA/HS and the GDOE to develop a training and certification program for public school safety coaches, who may be former or current members of the military, law enforcement officers, fire safety officials or other public safety personnel.
The Senate Study Committee on School Safety, chaired by Albers, met throughout last year to hear input from teachers, parents, students, subject matter experts, law enforcement officers and education stakeholders. The recommendations were reported and served as the foundation for the Keeping Georgia’s Schools Safe Act.
The Keeping Georgia’s Schools Safe Act passed by a vote of 47 to 8.