$200M plan to protect Tenn. students, minus gun control, headed to governor’s desk

Published: Apr. 13, 2023 at 10:37 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Tennessee lawmakers took a tough stance on school security Thursday in Nashville. The full Senate passed Governor Bill Lee’s sweeping school safety plan.

Governor Lee proposed this plan before the mass shooting at Covenant School in Nashville took place on March 27.

After approving a few amendments, the legislation passed in the Senate with bipartisan support. It’s a $200 million dollar road map for securing buildings at all public, private, and church-affiliated schools.

“This requires schools to go through and submit plans for security and layouts of every building to local law enforcement, and to the state,” explained the bill’s sponsor, Sen. John Lundberg, a Republican from Bristol.

The plan will require the following drills annually:

  • Incident command drill for each district
  • Armed intruder drill for each school
  • And a bus drill

Every door at a Tennessee school must remain locked. Failure to do so results in a warning. If there’s a second offense, a school could lose 2% of its funding.

Any new or renovated school built after July 1, 2023, requires bullet-resistant glass on the first floor and basement windows and doors, camera systems, and at least one main entrance must have double-entry doors.

School districts are also asked to implement a mobile panic alert system to make sure first responders coordinate during an emergency.

And the plan calls for an armed security guard at every school.

Increased mental health resources are included in this legislation.

Senate Minority Leader Raumesh Akbari of Memphis voted for Governor Lee’s plan but said it’s incomplete without some kind of gun control component.

”I do think this is a good step forward,” Sen. Akbari told Action News 5, “But at the end of the day, if we’re not going to do anything about gun safety, specifically something that I think should be a non-partisan issue... a red flag law... then we still have a scenario where kids could possibly be killed in schools.”

The House passed the bill earlier this month. With the Senate giving it the green light, the school safety plan now heads to the Governor’s desk for his signature.

“Standalone, it’s not a bad bill. I just think it needs to partner up with some other bills to be really a complete package,” said Akbari.

Governor Lee could sign the bill into law as early as Monday, April 17.

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