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OKLAHOMA CITY – The Senate passed Senate Bill 101 Monday to help improve school safety and security. The measure, by Sen. Dewayne Pemberton, R-Muskogee, will appropriate $20 million to the Department of Emergency Management to administer the Oklahoma School Security Grant Program.
“Oklahoma’s school districts have varying safety standards and levels of security. We recently approved the school risk and vulnerability assessments to standardize building security and safety protocols across districts, and these grants will help schools afford any necessary improvements,” Pemberton said. “Protecting the safety of our citizens is our greatest responsibility, especially when it comes to our children. The only concern our students and school staff should have is learning, never whether their well-being is in danger.”
Under SB 101, 85% of the grant funds would be available for public schools, technology center schools, and private schools, while the remaining 15% would provide grants to institutions of higher learning. To qualify for the grants, schools must undergo a risk and vulnerability assessment conducted by the Oklahoma School Security Institute (OSSI), and they must also agree to expend grant funds on items recommended by the assessment and/or to provide behavioral threat assessment and management training to employees.
The Senate recently approved SB 100, requiring the school risk assessments. Both bills were recommendations of the bipartisan School Safety Working Group, which Pemberton chaired. The OSSI was created following recommendations of the Oklahoma Commission on School Security in 2013 in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut.
Oklahoma has 2,059 school sites, including public and private schools, and career technology schools.
The bill now goes across the rotunda where House Assistant Majority Whip Rep. Dick Lowe, R-Amber, is serving as the House principal author.
For more information, contact: Sen. Pemberton: (405) 521-5533 or Dewayne.Pemberton@oksenate.gov