Frye: Safety first this school year

Posted by: Abigail Campbell  | Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Students and educators are heading back to school for the new academic year. For many, school safety is top of mind. Further improving on school safety is an ongoing conversation at the Statehouse, and short- and long-term proposals will be considered. The General Assembly recently added to our already nationally recognized school safety policies and continues to make school safety a top priority.

A new law I supported opens up $35 million in low-interest loans and adds another $5 million to the Indiana Secured School Safety Grant Fund, which is administered by the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. This adds to the $53 million already allocated to this matching grant program for local schools.

One of the programs that this funding supports is the Indiana School Safety Academy. Indiana schools are required to employ a certified specialist who is trained annually on best safety practices in every school district. The Indiana School Safety Specialist Academy provides ongoing training and information on national and best practices for school safety and security. Indiana is 1 of 2 states to require every school district to employ one of these certified specialists, and nearly 2,500 specialists have been trained and certified at no cost to local schools.  

I also helped craft a new law with the assistance of the state fire marshal, to update fire alarm evacuation protocols. In past school shootings, the shooter pulled the fire alarm to flood the hallways with students and educators. To dissuade copycat attacks, this law modifies how teachers can respond to unplanned fire alarms. It allows teachers to barricade or block a door for up to three minutes while the fire alarm is investigated by a designated school official.

Recently, it was announced that every school in Indiana has the option to receive hand-held metal detectors at no cost to the school. So far, more than 3,000 hand-held detectors will be distributed to 94 percent of traditional public schools in the state. Traditional public, charter and accredited non-public schools can still request detectors by visiting in.gov/dhs/grants.htm.

Safety is an ever-evolving issue that can always be improved on, especially when it comes to our students and educators. These new tools can help keep Indiana schools safe as we enter the new school year. As always, please contact me with any questions or input about new laws and policies at 312-232-9981 or h67@iga.in.gov.

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Rep. Frye (R-Greensburg) represents Ohio, Ripley and Switzerland counties, as well as portions of Decatur, Jennings, Jefferson and Dearborn counties.

A high-resolution photo of Frye can be downloaded by clicking here.