Recently, legislators returned to the Statehouse for a one-day special session. The governor called for this meeting of the General Assembly to wrap-up a few critical issues left on the table at the conclusion of the regular session in March. During the efficient and focused special session day, legislators voted on an important bill addressing school safety.
Increasing school safety and providing peace of mind for children, parents, and educators is important. A new law enacted during special session puts more protections in place for Hoosier students. The legislation appropriates up to an additional $5 million to the Indiana Secured School Safety Grant Fund, which supports initiatives aimed at keeping schools safe and secure. This is on top of the $45 million in state grants awarded to local districts for safety upgrades. The measure also ensures school safety specialists are trained in how to identify, prevent and intervene in the actions of a person who has the intent to harm others on school property.
The law also implements a new protocol in the event of a fire alarm. If the alarm goes off unplanned, school employees are able to block or barricade classroom doors while the alarm is investigated by a designated school official. This change was made to prevent attacks using tactics like in the Parkland shooting.
The new law also implements protections against human trafficking to help keep students safe. In 2016, more than 180 human trafficking victims were identified in Indiana. To help reduce that number, certain school employees will be trained on how to identify, report and prevent human trafficking. The Department of Education, State Board of Education and school corporations will also provide resources for the prevention of human trafficking and cyberbullying on their websites.