by Becki Gray
Former Senior Vice President, John Locke Foundation
In addition to the 2018-19 state budget, school safety is a top priority for the 2018 short session. At the conclusion of the long session, Speaker Tim Moore established a House Select Committee on School Safety comprised of forty members. They were charged with examining the current safety standards throughout NC K-12 schools and making recommendations for legislative changes to ensure the highest quality level of safety for students, teachers and school personnel.
The committee met on March 21 and began identifying problems, hearing from experts and discussing a plan forward. They created two working groups that each met twice; Student Health Working Group and Student Physical Safety and Security Working Group hearing from a wide array of experts.
The full committee held their final meeting on May 10 and, based on their research and discussions submitted their final report with a list of findings and 15 recommendations to the General Assembly. On the first day of short session, eight bills per the committee’s recommendations were filed.
House Bill 933 directs the State Board of Education to grant a license to practice as a school psychologist to any individual who holds the nationally certified school psychologist credential. Extending reciprocity and allowing certification recognition is a very good idea. HB 933 passed the House unanimously and is now in the Senate for consideration.
The remaining seven bills have strong bi-partisan sponsorship and have been referred to the House Committee on Education K-12. The committee meets on Tuesdays at 10:00 am in the Legislative Office Building Room 643.
House Bill 932 – Anonymous Safety Tip Line Application
House Bill 934 – Threat Assessment Teams/Peer to Peer Counsels
House Bill 937 – School Resource Officers (SROs) Defined/Training Standards
House Bill 938 – Expand Use /School Risk Management Plans
House Bill 939 – School Building Vulnerability Assessments
House Bill 940 – School Resource Officer report by Local Boards of Education to Center for Safer Schools
House Bill 941 – Increase funding for school resource officer grant
Safe schools is a concern across North Carolina.
In a Civitas Institute poll conducted May 1-3, 2018, 600 likely voters across NC (240 democrats, 198 republicans, 162 independents) were asked:
In your own words, what would be the single best way to enhance school security?
43% said security guards, more armed guards, policy resource officers, military, trained guards
8% said stricter gun laws, control who can purchase weapons, gun control, limit guns.
2% said funding for schools, more money to schools
I think we can all agree that public safety is a core function of government. Everyone in North Carolina should be encouraged that this General Assembly is taking measures to ensure our schools are safe.