Legislation requiring school safety plans saw overwhelming support from the education community.
At Tuesday’s (1/26) Senate Education committee hearing for Senate Bill 63, which requires schools to implement school safety plans and conduct lockdown drills, representatives from ASBSD, SASD, SDEA and the state Department of Education testified in favor of the bill. SB 63 passed on a 6-0 vote.
“The safety of our children,” ASBSD Executive Director Wade Pogany testified, “school boards always have that as a top priority.”
SASD Executive Director Rob Monson noted that 99 percent of school districts that responded to a survey cited they have a safety plan in place.
SB 63 calls for the organization of a school safety committee in each district, development of a plan, scheduled lockdown drills and an annual meeting to review the plan. An amendment removed prescriptive criteria to provide districts more flexibility in developing a plan that fits the district.
“We know that plans are not perfect, but we know practice makes you prepared,” Samson Boutchee, a representative from the South Dakota Association of School Resource Officers and member of Pierre Police Department, testified.
“We bring this bill forward to possibly prevent a tragedy.”
South Dakota experienced a brush with school violence in September with the near tragic events in the Harrisburg School District.
“We’re not immune to the situation,” Sen. Larry Tidemann, the bill’s sponsor, said. “We need to keep the top focus (to) protect the students, the staff and the folks that may be (in the school).”