Gov. Phil Bryant school safety task force: Require active shooter drills in schools twice a year
A school safety task force created by Gov. Phil Bryant is recommending that Mississippi schools hold active-shooter drills each semester.
The proposed guideline is one of several policies the task force wants lawmakers to consider during the 2019 session.
Members of the panel also want a feature on school district websites allowing people to report threats anonymously.
Bryant established the panel last year, four months after a gunman killed 17 students and teachers at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
That same year Bryant spoke in support of legislation allowing school districts to offer training to some employees that would allow them to carry guns on campus.
The proposal died during the 2018 session. The new proposal does not explicitly include a recommendation to arm teachers. The report calls, however, for giving school districts permission to establish a volunteer school marshal program. That proposal would apply to districts who cannot afford to hire one school resource for every 1,000 students per school.
During his final State of the State address earlier this month, Bryant pushed lawmakers to pass the Mississippi Safe School Act in response to a spate of mass school shootings, saying “our schools, which once were a haven of security, have become a place of potential violence.”
Some of the proposals in the report released Friday will require money.
Task force members are asking the Legislature to find funding to hire at least one school resource officer per 1,000 students in every school.
Mental health is also a focus in the report. The proposal recommends school districts partner with health providers in order to provide screenings and secure treatment for students.
“Increasing the number of mental health professionals and properly trained school resource officers in schools is a key priority that cannot go unrecognized and unfunded,” the report states.
Figures for how many school districts already implement active shooting drills were not immediately available.
Jackson Public Schools, Mississippi’s second-largest school district, holds intruder drills twice per year.
“These drills provide an opportunity to hone the skill set of teachers and building level personnel and create a proactive mindset on the part of students and staff,” the district said in a statement.
Data compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics show active shooter drills are becoming more common. Seventy percent of public schools nationwide reported in 2014 that they held drills with an active shooting scenario, up from the 46.5 percent that held such drills in 2003.
At least seven states require schools to hold an active shooter drill.