For school administrators, safety planning means more than staying on top of the latest security trends. You have to address community expectations, deal with budget constraints and, just as important, satisfy your state’s required school security systems.
Does your state require a formal school safety plan? Do you need to involve local law enforcement in your school safety planning? What about security audits and safety training? Who is and is not authorized to be armed on your campus?
The answers to these and other questions depend on the state. School security requirements vary widely, and many state governments have recently put stricter requirements in place. Staying current on your state requirements is essential as you upgrade security in your district.
School Security Requirements Expanded After Parkland
The February 2018 high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, marked a turning point for school security policy and funding at both the state and national levels.
Before Parkland, only 15 states mandated specific requirements for school safety, according to a study by the Police Foundation. Common security requirements included:
- Restricted visitor access in 9 states
- Interior and exterior access controls in 6 and 7 states, respectively
- Crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) in 7 states
- Intercom systems in 7 states
- Emergency notification systems in 5 states
- Bullet- and blast-resistant materials in 4 states
But the Parkland tragedy, combined with subsequent school shootings in Maryland and Texas, spurred lawmakers into action. About 26 states allocated more than $900 million for school safety programs in 2018, ranging from $300,000 in Missouri to $400 million in Florida. The funding, spent mostly on security upgrades and school resource officers, also supported mental health and violence prevention programs.
Federal legislation is also providing much-needed funding. The 2018 Students, Teachers and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act offered $70 million in grant funding to districts across the nation. The bipartisan school violence prevention bill, if passed, will allocate $2 billion over 10 years to help school districts conduct independent safety risk assessments and implement security improvements, such as silent panic alarms, metal detectors, steel doors and bulletproof windows.
State-by-State School Security Requirements
Today, most states require school safety plans, emergency drills and violent incident response plans, and many state governments have tightened regulations to strengthen school security and encourage collaboration with local law enforcement.
A recent report from the Education Commission of the States (ECS) summarizes statutes and regulations on K-12 school safety for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The report, 50 State Comparison: K-12 School Safety, gives you a synopsis of school safety regulations in your own state and allows you to keep tabs on how other states are responding to growing concerns about school shootings, natural disasters and other threats.
The report provides data for five main areas: school safety plans, school safety audits, school safety drills, school resource officers and weapons in schools. Among its key findings:
- At least 43 states and the District of Columbia require districts to have a school safety plan, many mandating the involvement of local law enforcement.
- About 13 states and the District of Columbia mandate safety audits at school facilities, some with the help of local law enforcement.
- At least 42 states require schools to conduct safety or security drills, such as active shooter, evacuation, lockdown and emergency response training.
- About 28 states and the District of Columbia require specific training for school resource officers either similar to law enforcement training or tailored to the school setting.
- At least 30 states and the District of Columbia allow school security personnel, including school resource officers, to carry firearms in school. Some states allow other school employees or concealed carry permit holders to carry firearms in schools. Other states allow local districts to decide if firearms are allowed in their schools.
To check school security statutes and regulations for your state, view the report’s individual state profiles.