OAN Roy Francis
UPDATED 2:05 PM – Wednesday, April 5, 2023
Additional measures to strengthen safety across public and private schools in Tennessee have been announced by Governor Bill Lee.
The plan proposes placing security guards at schools and making mental health resources, services and additional aid available. The plan was introduced by Governor Lee in Tennessee and includes additional funding for public and private schools across the state.
The plan provides for directing $140 million towards a School Resource Officer grant to hire security guards in all public schools, $30 million toexpand Tennessee’s homeland security network serving students, $20 million for public school security, $7 million for private schools and $8 million for school-based behavioral health liaisons.
“There is nothing more important than our students safely returning home each day,” Lee said. “As Tennessee grieves the tragic loss of six precious lives in the Covenant shooting, we are taking additional actions to significantly boost safety measures at every school with highly trained guards, physical security enhancements, and mental health resources. I thank Lieutenant Governor McNally, Speaker Sexton, and members of the General Assembly for their partnership as we pursue thoughtful, practical solutions to protect Tennessee students and teachers.”
The proposed additional measures come a week after six people, consisting of three children and three staff members, were killed in a Nashville shooting that occurred at The Covenant School. Governor Lee presented his proposal for enhancing school safety measures in a conference room.
“These are practical, thoughtful solutions that we can all agree upon,” said Governor Lee during the news conference.
The governor addressed the protests in his state over gun laws, stating that individuals who pose a threat to themselves or others should not have access to firearms. Stricter gun laws are being demanded by some lawmakers in the Democratic party. Nevertheless, the new plan demands that guards receive active shooter training before being hired and guards are held to a high standard.
Other precautions that the new plan implements include a multi-tiered accountability plan to ensure the locking of exterior school doors while students are present. Every school district would establish a threat assessment team and ensure that support services and behavioral health professionals are readily available to any student. It would also ensure that schools draft annual safety plans and that school leaders and law enforcement prepare for potential emergencies.
Since Governor Lee was elected to office in 2019, improving school safety has been his priority. In June 2021, he signed Executive Order 97 which implemented a state-wide initiative aimed at improving school safety by increasing school, parent, and local law enforcement collaboration within the state.
While some lawmakers in the state legislature criticized Governor Lee for militarizing schools with armed guards, others said that red flag laws should be in place, which means imposing cool-off periods and conducting background checks before issuing a gun permit. In response to this, Governor Lee said that he is looking for answers that protect constitutional rights
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