These days, it seems like the summers are going by even faster than they did when I was a student! Just yesterday, the temperatures were beginning to warm up and children were hanging up their backpacks. Now, many of them are already back in the classroom.
The back-to-school season is met with both excitement and nervousness, and not just for students. Even for parents, whose children have been in school for years, it can be difficult to send your child off to be in someone else’s care each day. As a father, and now grandfather, I know that every parent simply wants to know that their child will be in good hands. They want them to learn and grow, but most importantly to be safe.
That is why I supported legislation to provide additional mechanisms to ensure that all Hoosier students would be safer this school year, and I would like to share those with you in this week’s column.
During the 2013 legislative session, the Indiana General Assembly created the Secured School Safety Board (SSSB) to approve grant applications to hire a school resource officer. As of November 2013, the SSSB had awarded $4.1 million in grant funds to 100 school corporations in Indiana, a significant investment in our children’s safety. As a follow-up this session, I co-sponsored legislation which allows the SSSB to also award a matching grant for school resource officer training.
Although it serves as a deterrent, just having an officer present in the school building is not enough. As with any job, there must be proper, sufficient training as well. By allowing schools greater flexibility to adequately train their school resource officers, we are ensuring that these men and women are as prepared as they can be in the case of an emergency. As parents and grandparents, we all hope and pray that a school incident does not occur, but it is still imperative that we are prepared and do everything we can to prevent these types of situations from occurring.
When students are not in the classroom, many of them can be found outside, participating in athletic activities. In recent years, a growing concern affecting all student athletes is the possibility of incurring a head injury. That is why I was proud to support a new law that requires a high school student athlete, who has been removed from play due to a suspected concussion or head injury, may not return to play until at least 24 hours later. This allows more time for coaches and students to evaluate the potential of a concussion before furthering the negative effects.
Here again, we placed a significant emphasis on training by requiring football coaches and assistant coaches, who are coaching individuals under the age of 20, to complete a course concerning player safety and concussions at least once during a two-year period.
I truly believe that these efforts will result in an all-around safer environment for Hoosier students, both in the classroom and on the playing field. With all the excitement and nervousness that accompanies a new school year, I hope that these examples of how we have made student safety a top priority will help put your mind at ease.
The legislative session may be over, but my commitment to this issue has not ended. If there is anything else I can do to help this school year, please do not hesitate to call.