(TNS) - Legislation that calls for school districts to adopt safety plans for their schools and file those plans with a statewide school safety committee was signed into law on Monday.
Under the law signed by Gov. Gina Raimondo, both the existence of the Rhode Island School Safety Committee and the process for the safety plans are codified. The districts must provide the plans to the safety committee every three years for the committee's review and recommendation.
"It's another step to ensure the safety of our students in schools," said the chairman of the safety committee, state police Capt. Derek Borek. "Anything we can do to ensure the safety of our children in our schools is the goal of the safety committee."
Borek emphasized that the committee believes there are lots of simple, inexpensive things that schools can do to enhance safety and slow down an active shooter.
The safety-assessment process, already completed by 17 school districts, aims to help school administrators address weaknesses that are simple to deal with, he said.
"We're not looking at it so a School Department needs to spend $200,000," Borek said.
The legislation was introduced by House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello and Sen. Hanna M. Gallo.
State officials, including Raimondo, made some public outreach to the safety committee following a mass killing at a Florida school in February.
The new law calls for all school districts to perform the assessments, which are based on a form developed by the committee, for each school building. The assessments must be done within 30 days of when the law takes effect and then every three years after that.
The law also establishes that the state police superintendent will designate the chairperson of the 12-member committee. The law calls for representatives of various state agencies and organizations, from the Rhode Island School Superintendents' Association to the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association, to sit on the committee.
Rhode Island has 36 school districts. The committee, said Borek, will have a lot of work to do as all of the assessments flow in.
"Our job now is to review those and list any recommendations we have or offer any assets we have to that school district," Borek said.
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