Sen. Ted W. Lieu reintroduces plan for needed improvements to school safety preparedness

December 17, 2012
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Action comes in aftermath of school shooting

LOS ANGELES – In response to parental concerns about how well schools are prepared for emergencies like shootings, Sen. Ted W. Lieu of Torrance today announced plans to reintroduce his measure from last term to require schools to better prepare for the worst by having established emergency-response plans.

“President Obama stated yesterday our first task is to care for our children,” said Lieu, father of two young sons in public elementary school. “When children attend public school, they are in the care of the state and we better make sure they are as safe as possible.”

Lieu continued, saying: “Currently the state does not have accurate figures on how many public schools have established school-safety plans that outline emergency steps that must be taken immediately should something horrible occur.  As of last year, no district has ever been fined for failing to report a school that has not developed a school- safety plan.  As a result, too many schools either have no school safety plan or have failed to update or disseminate their plan.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento is coauthor of the bill.

“The Legislature has a responsibility to do what it can to ensure basic safety requirements are enforced in our schools,” Steinberg said. “Many schools have good plans in place, but that’s not enough. The safety of our children demands 100 percent compliance.”

Data from the school accountability report card (SARC) showed in 2009, the latest data found, that 32.5 percent, or 25 out of 77 public middle schools in Los Angeles have no safety plan at all.  Another 16 had outdated plans and/or failed to review them with staff.  In all, the noncompliance rate reported was 53.2 percent.

Lieu’s measure will be assigned number Senate Bill 49, but the language of the proposed bill is viewable at the link below. Last year’s version was Senate Bill 755, which passed policy committee but not the fiscal committee.

Specifically, Lieu’s proposed bill would amend the Education Code to:
•        Require annual school financial audits to include a summary of the school’s compliance with having a safety plan or an updated safety plan.
•        Require the Superintendent of Public Instruction to withhold the next principle apportionment to schools that are not in compliance.
•        Require the state Department of Education to publish the list of non-complying schools on its Web site.
•        Require that the provisions of school-safety plans apply to charter school petitions.
•        Require the school safety plan to specifically address active shooter situations in addition to general crime scenarios. 

When Lieu introduced SB 755 in 2011, it was in the wake of a recent lockdown of nine Los Angeles schools in response to a reported armed gunman nearby.  The episode exposed vast differences in the way many of the schools dealt with the emergency.  Those present at the command center remarked that some of the schools were woefully unprepared.  The Los Angeles police concluded that individual schools had failed to develop their own plans for managing emergencies.

Just last week, schools in Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District were on lockdown because armed robbery suspects were in the area.  (As a result of redistricting, Lieu’s office covers constituents in the Palos Verdes Peninsula).    

“Nobody wants a tragic situation to be made worse because preparatory steps that should have been taken were neglected or inadequate,” Lieu said. “Given the recent massacre in Connecticut, and the lockdown of three schools in Palos Verdes Peninsula last week, the time is now to do what we can to protect our children.” 
The initial hearing on the bill by Lieu and Steinberg will be sometime early next year. No date has yet been set.

For more, visit Lieu’s Web site at the address below.

Ted W. Lieu represents nearly 1 million residents of Senate District 28, which includes the cities of Carson, El Segundo, Hermosa Beach, Lomita, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach and Torrance, as well as portions of Long Beach, Los Angeles and San Pedro. With redistricting, Lieu will also be responsible for constituents in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Pacific Palisades, Palos Verdes Peninsula, West Hollywood, West Los Angeles, and portions of Hollywood. For more, visit www.senate.ca.gov/lieu.

PHOTO CAPTION: Sen. Ted W. Lieu is interviewed about his school-safety bill by ABC-TV during lunch in his District Office in Redondo Beach. (Photo by Jennifer Zivkovic).