Required ‘lockdown’ training bill comes back again
(Calif.) A GOP lawmaker from San Diego is once again trying to drum up support for a mandate on schools statewide to conduct lockdown drills at least twice each year.
State Sen. Patricia Bates, R-Encinitas, brought similar legislation forward last year only to have it die in committee—why exactly it failed is not clear.
But once again, Bates is making the point that current law requires schools to conduct fire drills but not for active shooters on campus.
“We want out children to be prepared to survive,” Bates told members of the Senate’s Education Committee Wednesday. “And the only way to do that is to teach the kids how to protect themselves.”
As proposed, SB 541 would require every public school, including charters and private schools with an enrollment of more than 50 students or more than one classroom, to conduct a lockdown drill at least twice during the school year.
The bill defines “lockdown” as a “situation that presents an immediate and ongoing danger to the safety of pupils, faculty, staff and visitors by a person using firearms or other types of weapons or displaying erratic behavior.”
As part of the materials provided to the committee staff, Bates referenced a 2017 report from the California State Auditor that showed active shooter incidents have become more common in and around schools both in California and nationally.
Auditors also found that the California Department of Education as well as some county offices of education and some district managers had failed to provide proper oversight of existing requirements for school personnel to review and update school safety plans.
There was no mention in the bill analysis whether SB 541 would trigger reimbursement requirements under the state’s mandated claims process. But the bill Bates introduced last year was flagged as one that would ultimately cost the Legislature to impose.
Last year’s bill also would have directed districts to include in their school safety plans lockdown training.
One area of concerns appears to be the impact the lockdown training might have on students and even staff given the nature of the threat it attempts to avoid.
“I want to be sure that what we are doing here isn’t going to traumatize the students or the staff,” said Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, at Wednesday’s hearing. “We want to be sure that we are not doing is creating fear in our students or out staff. I’ve got concerns about young (?) children being told there might be people out there who want to come to your school to kill you.”
Bates, whose bill won passage to the Senate Appropriation Committee, said that she would include as part of the bill best practices for conducting the training drawn up by experts.