[r63] Putting our children first

Posted by: Zach Weismiller  | Friday, May 2, 2014

Many schools across Indiana will soon be letting out for the summer. But that didn’t stop us from working diligently this spring to ensure a safer environment for students when they return to school in the fall. 

As a parent, we often feel as if our children are an extension of ourselves. I speak from experience when I say it can be difficult to send your child off to school for seven hours a day, especially in the world we live in today. One of my goals going into this session was to help give parents more peace of mind when their child leaves each morning.

One way that we worked to achieve this was through Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 85 which passed unanimously out of the House and received overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate. During the 2013 session, the General Assembly created a school resource officer (SRO) program whereby an armed guard may be appointed to protect a school and assist with the development of a school safety plan. This is not something that any parent wants to even think about a school ever needing, but if something were to happen in Indiana, this would be an essential safeguard for students.

SEA 85 allows the Secured School Safety Board (SSSB) to award a matching grant for schools needing to train a SRO. It also requires a SRO to be employed by a law enforcement agency, appointed as a police reserve officer or special deputy, or employed as a school corporation police officer. 

These efforts provide schools with a better understanding of who can be employed as a SRO and ensures that schools can receive financial assistance for SRO training. Ultimately, this legislation was necessary to bring clarity and additional guidance to the school safety legislation we worked on in 2013.   

I also strongly supported legislation which deals with high school student athlete concussions. This has become a major concern affecting all sports but particularly football. Starting July 1, a high school athlete who has been removed from play due to a head injury or suspected concussion will not be able to return to play until at least 24 hours after the incident occurred. This should allow plenty of time for any symptoms indicating a significant injury to present themselves. 

This legislation also requires football coaches and assistant football coaches who are coaching students under the age of 20 to complete a course concerning player safety and concussions at least once during a two-year period. This is indicative of the increasing awareness that it only takes a split second for a game of football to turn physically devastating. 

These pieces of legislation go the extra mile to ensure the safety of Hoosier schoolchildren. We have addressed many other pieces of legislation that also work to protect children, but this was just a quick overview of what Hoosier legislators have worked on to address this high priority issue. If you are interested in learning more about these bills or any other, please visit our website, where you can search for legislation by legislator as well as by subject, at www.iga.in.gov