Iowa Senate approves requirement for school security plans

House next considers bill mandating plans for shooters and disasters

Sen. Tim Kraayenbrink, R-Fort Dodge
Sen. Tim Kraayenbrink, R-Fort Dodge

DES MOINES — All public and state-accredited private schools in Iowa would be required to have emergency plans — such as for active shooter situations and natural disasters — in place by June 30, 2019, under legislation that won unanimous approval late Tuesday in the Iowa Senate.

School officials would be required to consult with local law enforcement and emergency management agencies in developing protocols for every school. The plans would be kept confidential and exempt from the state’s open records law, said Sen. Tim Kraayenbrink, R-Fort Dodge, the bill’s floor manager.

“This will help ensure that our schools are prepared for the worst and have good practices in place to keep our children safe,” Kraayenbrink said. “While we hope these plans never have to be used, it is essential that our schools have emergency operation plans developed in preparation for the worst-case scenario.”

According to the Iowa Department of Education, 88 percent of Iowa school districts reported having security plans in place but less than 10 percent indicated they have high-quality plans with "walk-through" drills for school personnel, said Kraayenbrink. He noted to his Senate colleagues that the security requirement was being drafted before last month’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 17 people were killed.

Kraayenbrink said the Senate Education Committee had decided the safety of Iowa children needed to be prioritized by having schools adopt security plans to deal with active shooter or disaster situations. On Tuesday, senators amended Senate File 2364 to include state-accredited non-public schools.

Other provisions of the bill, which passed 50-0 and now heads to the Iowa House for consideration, require that school personnel know the proper procedures for timely reporting of potential threats to law enforcement and undergo training once per year on plans that are reviewed and updated annually.

Kraayenbrink noted that schools’ security plans will not be subject to an open-records request because the safety of children would be enhanced if the information is not publicly known.

“In the case of an active shooter, we do not want the shooter knowing the protocol for the movements and lockdown procedures of our children,” he said.

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