Oklahoma City –- Legislation to improve the safety and security of Oklahoma’s public and private school districts, and CareerTechs was unanimously approved Friday, May 19, by the Senate.
Senate Bill 100, by Sen. Dewayne Pemberton, will help ensure all schools meet certain safety and security standards by requiring districts to complete ongoing risk and vulnerability assessments.
The bill was requested by the bipartisan Senate School Safety Working Group, which the Muskogee Republican and retired educator chaired.
“With growing concerns about school safety, finding a way to get all of our districts on the same page regarding security was our working group’s main goal. This will better utilize the Oklahoma School Security Institute by having them conduct regular assessments of facilities and procedures to make sure our schools are as secure as possible,” Pemberton, a said.
“I’m grateful and proud of the Legislature for supporting this important measure and also historic funding to ensure all districts are able to afford improvements to the safety and security of their facilities.”
S.B. 100 requires the OSSI to conduct the assessments by July 1, 2026, with re-assessments conducted every five years.
Those districts that have already undergone assessments in the previous two years will be exempt.
Under the measure, any school district applying for an Oklahoma School Security Grant Program award must complete such an assessment and agree to expend grant funds on items recommended by the risk and vulnerability assessment and/or to provide de-escalation and behavioral threat assessment and management training to employees.
Finally, it requires the grant program report to include a list of recipients.
Oklahoma School Security Institute (OSSI) personnel work in partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (ODEMHS – of which OSSI is a subsidiary) and Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE).
The Senate also gave final approval Friday to House Bill 2903 and House Bill 2904, both of which Pemberton presented in the Senate.
Those two measures were elements in what a legislative press release today (Friday, May 19) described as an "historic investment into public education."
The first creates a three-year school safety pilot program to provide each district with approximately $96,000 to hire a school resource officer or make necessary security upgrades.
The other measure provides a one-time appropriation of $150 million to fund the safety program.
State Representative Dick Lowe, R-Amber, served as the principal House author of S.B. 100, which now goes before the governor for final consideration.
Note: Pat McGuigan of The City Sentinel newspaper prepared this report for posting. He worked with a Senate staff press release, incorporating earlier stories about proposals mentioned in this story.
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