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Delaware governor signs school safety bill

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September 13, 2012

By Jennifer Springer

Delaware

DOVER, Delaware: Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed into law on September 10, 2012 a new bill creating a formal statewide framework for comprehensive school safety plans.[1] The bill, Senate Bill 233, the Omnibus School Safety Act, would make Delaware the first state in country with statewide protocol.[1]

The bill requires the Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security to work with schools, districts and first responders to develop comprehensive, up-to-date safety plans.[1] Each safety plan will be coordinated with law enforcement agencies, fire departments and other first responders and will comply with the National Incident Management System.[1] Under existing laws and regulations, school districts are required to adopt emergency preparedness plans, but there is no requirement that such plans be school-specific or coordinated with local first responders.[2]

“We want our kids to go as far as their potential will take them but, we can’t control everything. For students to learn to the best of their abilities, they need, first and foremost, to be safe. Our goal is to bring comprehensive school safety plans to every public school and district in our state. This law is an important part of an ambitious, multi-year effort to make our schools and the students in our schools safer" Markell said in a press conference on September 10, 2012.

Governor Markell made instituting school safety plans a priority of his administration, announcing it in his State of the State address in 2011 and taking the beginning steps in early 2011 when he proposed a model plan as part of a comprehensive school safety mandate for all Delaware public schools.[3]

Senator David Sokola (D), sponsor of the measure in the state senate, spoke about the benefits of the bill saying, “Developing a consistent approach to handling emergencies in our schools will help our first responders in dealing with a crisis situation. It also should help give students, parents, teachers and administrators more peace of mind by knowing that people won’t be scrambling to deal with an unexpected crisis situation.”[1]

The new bill this fiscal year commits $400,000 to create school safety plans for approximately 50 schools.[1]

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