Legislation requiring school security drills to be age-appropriate and to prevent unnecessary traumatization of students has been signed by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. Among other requirements, the legislation prohibits the use of fake blood, real or prop firearms, or the simulations of gun shots or explosions in school security drills. The legislation aims to balance ensuring that students are informed and ready for threats that schools face in the present day with being sensitive to student mental health needs.
“I applaud Governor Murphy and our legislators for their continued dedication to the security of communities, and most importantly, to our children in schools,” said Acting Director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness Laurie Doran. “As threats continue to evolve, so does the need for our tactics. This bill helps ensure our school security efforts embrace students and families in a way that cultivates a culture of preparedness through continual improvement. Working with our State and local partners, NJOHSP will continue to prioritize the safety and security of schools by providing training, assessments, outreach and other resources to ensure the collective resilience of our school communities.”
A-5727/S-3726 requires the following guidance and procedures for school districts conducting school security drills when students are present:
- Drills will include clear, developmentally and age-appropriate messaging to students and staff at the conclusion of the drill that the event is a drill and no current danger exists.
- Drills cannot include the use of fake blood, real or prop firearms, or the simulations of gun shots, explosions or other sounds or visuals that may induce panic or a traumatic response from a student or school district employee.
- Drills must be accessible to students with disabilities and mental health conditions and provide all necessary accommodations for these students.
- School districts shall provide written notification to the parent or guardian of a student enrolled in the district following completion of a school security drill, which notice shall be provided to the parent or guardian by no later than the end of the school day on which the school security drill is conducted.
- School districts may permit emergency personnel access to the buildings and grounds of its schools for school security drills that are scheduled outside of school hours and during such times as students are not present.
- District shall review and update their school security drill procedures using a process that coincides with the review of the school safety and security plan and collects input from emergency personnel, parents and guardians, teachers and staff, mental health professionals and student government representatives from multiple grade levels.
- School districts will annually track data on such measures and information as are required by the Commissioner of Education and shall report the data to the commissioner.
Primary sponsors of this legislation include Assemblymembers Pamela Lampitt, Louis Greenwald and Ralph Caputo and Senators Loretta Weinberg and Shirley Turner.