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Rubio, Colleagues Introduce School Safety Legislation
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), along with 11 of their colleagues, today introduced the School Safety & Mental Health Services Improvement Act, legislation to allow 100,000 public schools to improve school safety by using federal dollars for school counselors, alarm systems, security cameras and crisis intervention training.
“While we focus on federal action to help prevent future attacks like Parkland, we must ensure that our local public school districts are given some flexibility in deciding how to safeguard their schools,” said Rubio. “This bill will allow 100,000 public schools to upgrade school security by using federal funds for measures such as school counselors, alarm systems, and training to respond to any crisis. Washington may provide the federal resources, but local communities optimally know how to utilize them to install school-specific safety measures.”
“We have drafted this legislation to help states and communities keep schools safe. Safe schools are for the most part a local responsibility, but in this case, the federal government can and should help,” said Alexander. “One way to do this is to give states and local school boards the authority to use federal dollars in different ways to make schools safer. For example, this bill would allow Tennessee to use federal dollars to upgrade school safety procedures, hire school counselors and develop mental health programs.”
Joining Rubio and Alexander were Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Bob Corker (R-TN), John Cornyn (R-TX), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Tim Scott (R-SC), and Todd Young (R-IN).
A one-page summary of the legislation is available here.
There are 100,000 public schools in the United States and state and local governments provide about 90 percent of public schools’ funding, but the federal government can and should help create an environment for communities, school boards and states to create safer schools.
Under The School Safety & Mental Health Services Improvement Act, the federal government can help in the following four ways:
- encourages more school counselors and other mental health professionals
- encourages school safety infrastructure upgrades
- encourages the development of mental health programs for crisis intervention training and mental health assessments
- creates a presidential task force to increase interagency communication