As the 2021-2022 legislative year begins in Virginia, one bill would mandate security protocols for school board meetings statewide.
House Bill (HB) 12 says schools would be required to “limit to the lowest feasible number the entry points in each public school building in the local school division” and “ensure that each individual who seeks to enter any school building in the local school division is screened with a handheld metal detector wand by a school security officer or another appropriate school board employee who is appropriately trained in such method of screening.”
Further, it would require schools to have a protocol in place for extra security measures if an employee security officer has reason to believe that someone on the property might be in possession of a weapon.
Any person who refuses security screening will be barred from entering the property, according to the bill.
Del. Timothy V. Anderson (R-District 83) introduced the bill in December, before the legislative session began.
“School safety is an issue in Virginia that both parties can and should agree needs addressing. Our children are our future; they are worth protecting,” Anderson told The Virginia Star. “We can’t wait for another tragic event to happen; that’s why I have filed three bills on this matter, HB 8, HB 12, and HB 37, so far. With an additional two more to come.”
HB 8 allows for some veterans to put their security training to use as School Resource Officers.
“The bill permits any local school board or private or religious school to employ as a school security officer any veteran who has served a minimum of 10 years as an active duty member in the Armed Forces of the United States, received an honorable discharge or general discharge under honorable conditions from such service, and meets the Department of Criminal Justice Services’ minimum certification and training requirements for school security officers,” according to its summary.
Anderson says that bill accomplishes two goals: keeping schools safe, and employing veterans.
“When filing HB 8, we conquered two issues in one bill. School safety and veteran unemployment. We have many skilled service members within our community who though out of the military, still have the burning desire to protect our citizens,” Anderson told The Star. “This bill will give school boards flexibility in hiring veterans who have defended our nation with honor to now defend our children from harm. Also, HB 8 allows school boards to allow school security officers to serve in other roles in the school, such as administration, nursing, coaching, and facility management. This bill is good for all stakeholders, and I hope to have strong bipartisan support.”
Federally, a bipartisan bill was introduced in the U.S. House in February of last year, seeking to codify school safety procedures and identify those at the state level who would be responsible for implementing those safety procedures.
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Pete D’Abrosca is a contributor at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Follow Pete on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].