State Rep. Brian BeGole, of Antrim Township, today offered condolences and prayers to families impacted by multiple shootings that took place on Monday night on the campus of Michigan State University.
“I am shocked and saddened by what has taken place and the impact this tragedy has had on students, families and faculty,” BeGole said. “My prayers are with everyone at MSU. Learning environments should be safe and secure as our next generations pursue their futures, but that notion was shattered last night by a deranged individual. This is a time for grieving, and I will work in Lansing to develop solutions to help stop horrific acts like this at places where our kids are supposed to be learning – not fearing for their safety.”
BeGole has co-sponsored newly introduced legislation that will improve safety for students at schools throughout the state. The K-12 safety plan carries out recommendations of a legislative task force formed in the wake of the Oxford school tragedy in 2021. Legislation was submitted to the House enrolling clerks last Thursday and was slated to be introduced this week before tragedy struck once again.
The bipartisan task force met with teachers, administrators, parents, law enforcement, mental health professionals, and other experts to identify policy solutions that could help prevent future acts of violence against students and teachers. The task force released its report last December.
The plan introduced today is designed to organize a unified approach to school safety and student mental health with communication, training, personnel, and more. The package would:
- Establish the School Safety and Mental Health Commission. This commission would identify best practices for schools to address behavioral, physical, and mental health needs. The commission would support at-risk students and work to reduce youth suicides by establishing a comprehensive statewide approach.
- Dedicate school staff to student safety and mental health. Each intermediate school district will receive funding to hire one safety and security coordinator and one mental health coordinator. These new staff would serve as points of contact for school safety plans, grant opportunities, and mental health and security strategies. They would maintain communication between the state and school districts within the ISD, while also facilitating communication between other school districts in their region.
- Plan for safety. One measure would require schools to review and update their safety plans every three years in consultation with their ISD-level safety coordinator. Another provision would establish statewide standards to guide the implementation of modern security measures for school buildings.
- Expand and improve OK2SAY. Contact information for the OK2Say confidential tip line would be placed on school ID cards for easy student access. Reporting and tips received by OK2Say would be passed on to the ISD coordinators and local law enforcement; reporting and tips would also be provided quarterly to the School Safety and Mental Health Commission. Higher standards and new reporting definitions for OK2SAY would also be adopted.
- Improve responses to school safety crises. The plan would require the Michigan State Police to provide uniform, comprehensive school safety and security training for school resource officers and all staff at Michigan schools. It would also create uniform definitions statewide for school safety terms, such as lockdowns, to foster better communication during crisis events. Other provisions would add more active-shooter drills and ensure at least one drill includes local law enforcement involvement and one is conducted between classes.
“We have a problem with violence in America and the violence is stemming from mental health issues that are going largely unaddressed far too often,” BeGole said. “This plan provides needed resources to help meet these mental health challenges, while giving more attention to reporting avenues and building requirements for added safety. Our kids and families deserve to know they’ll be safe at school.”
BeGole also said he will be exploring other, separate reforms that shore up security in and around “soft targets” such as schools, universities and churches.
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