After the mass shooting at a Parkland, Fla. high school last week, President Donald Trump pushed the idea of arming more teachers to protect students. That proposal is extremely controversial. But beyond that, many are wondering what lawmakers, including those on Capitol Hill, will do to address school shootings.
Notably, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, has said that he will soon introduce legislation in Congress that would address safety on K-12 campuses. Hatch is a member of the Senate education committee. However, there are already a handful of bills lawmakers have introduced this Congress that try to tackle various aspects of school safety and mental health in K-12.
These bills have been in the hopper for awhile, and this Congress isn’t even necessarily the first time they’ve been introduced. But they do give a flavor of what federal lawmakers have thought about when they’ve contemplated school safety.
Mental Health in Schools Act of 2017
- This legislation from Rep. Grace F. Napolitano, D-Calif., would provide $200 million in grants of up to $1 million each in order to increase the number of licensed mental-health professionals available on school campuses.
- The bill would expand on the Safe Schools/Healthy Students program run by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Napolitano said she’s already “implemented” this program in 14 schools in her congressional districts.
- The bill has 36 co-sponsors. All but two of them are Democrats.
Students, Teachers and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act of 2018
- This legislation from Rep. John H. Rutherford, R-Fla., would reauthorize the Community Oriented Policing Services Secure Our Schools grant program through fiscal 2028.
- In addition, the legislation would amend the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 in order to focus on “training to prevent student violence against others and self, including training for local law enforcement officers, school personnel, and students,” as well as “the development and operation of anonymous reporting systems for threats of school violence, including mobile telephone applications, hotlines, and internet websites.”
- The bill has six Republican co-sponsors and five Democratic co-sponsors. It also has the support of Sandy Hook Promise, a group advocating to protect children from gun violence that’s led by parents of children who were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. in 2012.
School Safety Act of 2017
- This legislation from Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., is similar to the STOP School Violence Act of 2018, in that it would reauthorize the Community Oriented Policing Services Secure Our Schools grant program
- However, Larsen’s bill focuses the “acquisition and installation of technology for expedited notification of local law enforcement during an emergency.” Unlike the STOP School Violence Act of 2018, it would only reauthorize Community Oriented Policing Services Secure Our Schools through fiscal 2022.
- The bill has three Republican co-sponsors and one Democratic co-sponsor.
Teacher Victims’ Family Assistance Act of 2017
- This legislation from Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., would require the U.S. Department of Education to provide assistance to the immediate family members of teachers who are killed “by another person’s violent act while performing school duties.”
- Such assistance would take the form of funeral assistance and assistance for undergraduate education of those immediately family members. It would also create a Teacher Victims’ Family Trust Fund, funded by a tax on ammunition.
- The bill has five Democratic co-sponsors.
None of the four bills listed above is being considered in the House or Senate education committees, at least not yet, according to congress.gov.
Hat-tip to Sasha Pudelski of AASA, the School Administrators Association, for her help in identifying these bills.