Senator Missy Irvin of Mountain View is drafting legislation to better prepare students and faculty in Arkansas for incidents of deadly school violence.
Irvin said that a goal of her legislation would be for schools to be able to take advantage of existing programs offered by the state Criminal Justice Institute, a part of the University of Arkansas system. “I believe students and faculty should be prepared to handle an incident of campus violence,” Irvin said. “My legislation would require drills, at least annually, similar to the way tornado drills are carried out.”
Irvin has been meeting with the Education Department and the Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators, which represents superintendents, principals and administrators. She also has discussed the legislation with organizations representing sheriffs and police chiefs.
“One concern I’ve heard, and which I share, is that it should not become an unfunded mandate. That could make it a financial burden for some communities. The challenge for the legislature will be to provide sufficient funding, “ Irvin said.
Cheryl May, a director of the Criminal Justice Institute, said it had a safe school initiative that for four years has provided training and helped to some school resource officers. Local law enforcement officers are included in the training, she said.
“We’re committed to making Arkansas schools safer, through better preparation of local law enforcement, school staff and emergency management personnel, in case an unfortunate incident occurs on a school campus in Arkansas,” May said.
Training for faculty would include, but not be limited to, how to prevent and respond to acts of violence and terrorism. Also, training would be geared to improving communication between school officials and law enforcement agencies.