Securing Our Schools
In the aftermath of the Parkland School (Florida) school shooting on February 14 of this year, Congressman Michael McCaul, the House Homeland Security Committee Chairman, with twelve Republican cosponsors, introduced on May 9, HR5731 “To require the Department of Homeland Security to develop a strategy to secure elementary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education from acts of terrorism, active shooters and other Homeland Security threats and for other purposes.”
The text of the bill hasn’t yet been officially published, but the measure tragically received further attention following the Santa Fe Texas school shooting of May 18. The bill has been referred to the Homeland Security Committee, the Judiciary Committee and the Education and Workforce Committee for their consideration.
-Requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to develop a Department-wide strategy for securing schools which includes coordination with state and local government;
-Makes clear that the grants available through the State Homeland Security Grant Program and Urban Area Security Initiative may be used for school security including school planning, training, exercises, information sharing and target hardening;
- Establishes an Office of Academic engagement to serve as liaison and outreach between Homeland Security and educational institutions.
The grant clarification referred to above would, in fact, amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 as would a stipulation in the bill that the grants “may not be used for the provision to any person of a firearm or training in the use of a firearm.”
The proposed legislation highlights the vulnerability of the nation’s education institutions and is being described as an initiative to make America’s school safety a national security priority. Its progress can be followed at www.congress.gov.
At the state level, Governor Abbott, in his remarks immediately following the Santa Fe incident, indicated that in addition to action by the executive branch action which is most immediately commencing with round tables and other public hearings, the State could expect the Texas State Legislature to address school security when it convenes in its next Session.
Gail Schubot CFRW Legislative Chair
May 21, 2018