Lawmakers Look At Strengthening School Safety Protocols

Dec 6, 2018

Laramie County Republican Senator Affie Ellis
Credit Wyoming State Legislature

The Wyoming Legislature is moving forward on policy that would require all schools to engage in training and create safety plans in the event of a violent intruder. The bill crafted by Cheyenne Senator Affie Ellis was approved by the legislature's joint education committee nine to four.

Several lawmakers expressed concern that the bill — which wasn't available to the public in advance of the committee meeting — needed more work. Ellis pushed for the committee to consider the bill, which she said addresses gaps in school safety training and preparation. But Ellis acknowledged the bill needed more work.

Dicky Shanor, the Wyoming Department of Education Chief of Staff, said Superintendent Jillian Balow wants to move school safety policy forward this session.

"Now we are going to dig deep into what exactly is in this bill, and what will be required of not only the Department of Education, the other state agencies that have been referenced, and the local school districts," said Shanor. "So we'll be doing that work in the coming month."

As it stands the bill would allocate $100,000 to help schools with school safety training and planning. In the meantime, the WDE will do a fiscal impact analysis to determine if that's an adequate amount of funding.

This bill proposes making school safety an element of the school accreditation process, which Shanor said makes sense.

"There's a peer review component to it now, where districts will be working more closely on accreditation," said Shanor. "So this will provide even more opportunity to share best practices among districts on this issue."

It will, however, be harder for local communities to weigh in on district plans. The legislation stipulates that school safety plans will be kept private and will not be subject to the Public Records Act. Legislators will consider the bill during the 2019 session.