Sen. Daughtry introduces bill to improve school safety planning
AUGUSTA — On Tuesday, Sen. Mattie Daughtry, D-Brunswick, introduced a bill to help Maine school districts improve their safety plans. LD 892, “An Act to Improve School Safety and Preparedness Through Comprehensive Health and Safety and Emergency Management Planning,” was the subject of a public hearing in the Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee.
“After the Nov. 15, 2022, school shooting hoax — which impacted Brunswick High School in my district, as well as schools around the state — I contacted the Department of Education to see how the Legislature could help ensure that Maine schools are best prepared for a real public safety emergency,” said Sen. Daughtry. “During that meeting, we discussed how guidelines around evacuation and other safety drills are outlined in rules. Thankfully, there’s already great collaboration around the state between public safety departments and school districts. However, we felt that legislation to help guide and clarify safety planning would be helpful for everyone.”
LD 892 includes language that would provide clarification for comprehensive safety plan standards and raise the overall level of safety preparedness in Maine schools. LD 892 would require that a school’s comprehensive health and safety and emergency management plan approved by the local school board meet nationally recognized practices and be developed collaboratively with appropriate stakeholders. It also would require that any steering committee formed by the school board as part of the update process include a school employee whom the school has designated to have oversight regarding school safety. As currently written, the statute does not offer any parameters around the expectations of a comprehensive safety plan.
“Having a plan to face any threat that is current, and knowing the people who will be responding pays dividends in the emergency response. It is important to get current stakeholders together and work to build a school safety plan. These plans would provide guidance for stakeholders to work together to address any threat in their facility,” said Sen. Dave LaFountain, D-Winslow, who cosponsored the bill. “With the recent events in my hometown of Winslow and across Maine, we must come together to make sure we’re prepared to protect the children and staff throughout our schools.”
The bill faces further action in committee.