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How legislation can improve school safety plans

Crossing guard helps elementary students cross the street.

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Our guest blogger is Katia Rodriguez, Senior Associate for Federal Policy at Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund. As an expert on policies to create safer schools, here she shares challenges and opportunities to improve safety and security for our nation’s students and school leaders. You’ll also learn about important new legislation to help improve access to lifesaving safety programs.

School Safety and Security Planning Issues

When it comes to keeping students safe, we all want to do what’s best to prevent the next tragedy. Since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, advocates across the country have proposed many new solutions to school safety. These solutions range from prevention programs, like Sandy Hook Promise’s Know the Signs, to preparedness strategies.

There are hundreds of safety programs and solutions available to schools today. That’s why making a choice can be overwhelming and confusing – and this can get in the way of school safety. How do school officials know where to start?

Right now, school officials do not always have enough support to determine the right, evidence-based solutions for their community. That means school must spend extra time and effort to prioritize security – time that can be taken away from supporting their students’ education. Students need a safe, supportive, and secure environment to learn, but school officials are struggling to address this important issue.

That’s why school officials need resources and support to help prevent the next school shooting or tragic act of violence. But unfortunately, current federal school safety work is missing critical ways to support schools.  

Too many options and a lack of guidance mean schools are missing meaningful opportunities to keep their kids safe. But with more support, administrators can have what they need to prevent the next school shooting or act of violence.

School Safety and Security Planning Today

When it comes to school security and safety planning, not all schools have the same experience. Some schools have strong resources to help create a school safety plan. Others do not have these same resources. As a result, there’s an uneven playing field. But violence can happen in any school across the country. That’s why all schools should have access to effective planning and support.

Financial costs should never be a barrier to school safety. That’s why Sandy Hook Promise championed The Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act, which funds program implementation. Specifically, it provides grants to states, school districts and tribal organizations for evidence-based programs and strategies to schools to prevent acts of violence.

New National School Safety Law Proposed

There are federal agencies that can help schools with their school safety planning. However, many school officials aren’t even aware that they exist and are available to help. They can provide specialized and customized consultations with schools to help them find the best solution. But right now, these agencies lack necessary funding to support schools that are seeking solutions.

With additional federal action, roadblocks can be removed so schools across the country can have better access to school safety programs. That’s why Sandy Hook Promise is championing a new federal solution to help make school safety planning more accessible for schools.  The new legislation, called the Preparing Leaders to Assess Needs (PLAN) for School Safety Act, can help protect more students and school leaders.

The PLAN Act will help school leaders determine which safety and security solutions are most helpful for their communities. School officials will have a direct link to professionals who will connect them to much-needed resources. In the end, this solution empowers our children’s school leaders to prioritize school safety planning – because school shootings are preventable, not inevitable.

How You Can Help

Show your support for the PLAN Act! Sign the pledge and let Congress know you support this vital solution for our schools.