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Gov. Brian Kemp has made school safety a top priority this legislative session. He has been quoted several times as saying, “No child, parent or educator should have to worry about the safety of a school campus.” Tuesday, the House passed HB 147, the ‘Governor’s Safe Schools Act,’ which was carried by one of the Governor’s House Floor Leaders, Will Wade, R-Dawsonville.

The bill, which passed 148-20, directs the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC), in consultation with the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA) and other state agencies, to create school safety and anti-gang endorsements for eligible certificated professional personnel. This is to be done no later than December 31, 2023, according to the legislation.

The bill also mandates that school safety plans, which are already annually required, be submitted to GEMA, and states that all eligible certificated professional personnel who are employed in a public school in Georgia complete a school safety and anti-gang training program which is approved by the Professional Standards Commission.

The bill encourages postsecondary educational institutions with GaPSC teacher certification programs to include training in safe schools and deterring youth gangs.

It also requires schools to conduct intruder alert drills for students, school administrators, teachers, and other school personnel by October of each school year. Local school districts may allow parents to opt their children out of these drills by written notification.

This legislation would also encourage school officials to strengthen partnerships with public safety officials, and to create enhanced crisis communications plans and social media strategies. School safety plans of private schools may be prepared with input from students enrolled in that school, parents or legal guardians of such students, teachers in that school, other school employees, and local law enforcement, fire service, public safety, and emergency, according to the bill.

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

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