Less than a week after a school shooting in Newtown, Conn. claimed the lives of 26 people, California State Sen. Ted Lieu announced Monday he will reintroduce a bill that would require all public schools in California to have established emergency response plans.
The bill, which was originally introduced by the South Bay senator in 2011 but failed to pass the fiscal committee, would require all public schools in California to maintain established emergency response plans that include specific plans for an active shooter scenario.
Schools that do not comply with the law could miss out on funding.
"Currently, the state does not have accurate figures on how many public schools have established school-safety plans that outline emergency steps that must be taken immediately should something horrible occur," Lieu said in a release. "As of last year, no district has ever been fined for failing to report a school that has not developed a school-safety plan ... As a result, too many schools either have no school safety plan or have failed to update or disseminate their plan.”
Among other requirements, the bill would mandate that public schools include a summary of their safety plan in annual school financial audits. A list of non-complying schools would be publicly available on the Department of Education's website.
Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, who co-authored the bill, said that while some schools already have plans in place, all public schools in the state need to follow suit.
"The legislature has a responsibility to do what it can to ensure basic safety requirements are enforced in our schools," Steinberg said. "The safety of our children demands 100 percent compliance."
According to the school accountability report card, only 32.5 percent of public middle schools in Los Angeles had any type of emergency plan in 2009, the last time data was collected on the subject.
Locally, the Manhattan Beach Police Department has had extra patrols at all public and private schools, including preschools, in the city this week. Officers have been patrolling school grounds in police units and on foot, said City Manager David Carmany.
MBPD holds several trainings per year, at local schools and Manhattan Village, to address “active shooter” situations, he said.
“In times like these, we are reminded that every single adult in our school community contributes to our students’ safety and welfare,” said Michael Matthews, Ed.D, superintendent of schools for Manhattan Beach Unified School District. “Bad things do happen, but there are countless people in our schools and our community working to keep everyone safe, and I want to thank them for caring for and guiding the children of Manhattan Beach.”
MBUSD regularly practices school-wide drills, including lockdown drills, to prepare for worst case scenarios and maintains an emergency communication system that is used to connect rapidly with parents by phone, text and/or email. MBPD resource officers are present at Mira Costa High School and Manhattan Beach Middle School, said Carmany.
Although no date has been set, the initial hearing for Lieu's school safety bill will most likely occur in the beginning of 2013.
"Given the recent massacre in Connecticut, and the lockdown of three schools in Palos Verdes Peninsula last week, the time is now to do what we can to protect our children,” Lieu said.