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Boosting School Safety in Oklahoma

Oklahoma should create a school security institute to provide education institutions with resources to make facilities and campuses safer.

That is one of the recommendations made by a state commission looking at way to bolster the security of education environments.  The Oklahoma Commission on School Security was formed in the days after the fatal shootings of students and others at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

“Our first priority is for our children, our students, to be safe and secure during their school day,” says Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, who led the 22-member commission. “No policy can prevent evil from occurring, but our hope is that these recommendations will mitigate and lessen the potential of future large-scale school violence.”

The commission recommends that the state:

-Establish an Oklahoma School Security Institute as part of the state’s Office of Homeland Security. It would be “a center of best practices and a resource for schools across the state to make their school environments safer,” the commission report says. 

The institute also would coordinate with other agencies to provide training to law enforcement in response to security incidents at schools, as well as coordinate training to other disciplines that interact with schools (e.g., workers in mental health, emergency medical, fire service).

-Create a Mental Health First Aid Training Program that would help those working in schools identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance-use disorders.

-Amend state law so that school districts are required to carry out school intruder drills. School workers would be trained so they would know what to do in the event of an unseen intrusion.

-Require the reporting of firearms to local law enforcement. “The principal or school administrator…should immediately report the discovery of the firearm,” the commission says.

-Establish a school security tip line. The commission says the new School Security Institute should operate a tip line that parents, teachers, students and administrators can use to report suspicious activity related to schools. 

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