Baker school safety bills pass House

Published 12:39 pm Thursday, April 18, 2013

A bill sponsored by state Rep. Alan Baker that would expand school safety drills passed the state House on Thursday.

The bill is part of a package of school safety measures that Alabama Republicans touted earlier this week. The proposal would require schools to have drills for active shooters and intruders more regularly — at least once a semester.

“Schools already are required by legislation and by State Department of Education (SDE) policy to have a comprehensive school safety plan in place to be followed as the need arises,” Baker, R-Brewton, said earlier in the session. “Currently, only an annual school safety drill is required to be performed specifically for a ‘hard’ lockdown prompted by a threat of violence.”

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Another bill sponsored by Baker that would boost the penalties for trespassing on a school bus passed the House last week. It would make trespassing on school buses a class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to a year in jail.

Although Baker actually introduced the bill before a tragic bus hostage situation in Dale County earlier this year, the bill was renamed the Charles Poland Jr. Act in honor of the bus driver who lost his life protecting students.

Both of Baker’s bills now go to the Senate for further action.

The package of bills from Republicans also includes a proposal to issue up to $50 million in bonds for school safety equipment and a proposal to allow school districts to hire certified, trained officers as resource officers.