Following the fatal shooting at The Covenant School in Tennessee, Governor Bill Lee announced additional safety actions for current school safety legislation. These measures include enhanced legislation and funding to place an armed security guard at every Tennessee public school, boost physical school security at public and private schools, and provide additional mental health resources for Tennesseans.
At the beginning of the 2023 legislative session, Lee introduced a bill to strengthen physical security at every public school and enhance accountability in school safety protocol. Additionally, the Governor’s initial budget proposal included $30 million for 122 Homeland Security agents to serve students at both public and private schools in every Tennessee county.
Following the shooting that took the lives of six Tennesseans, including three children, the Tennessee General Assembly coalesced around further action steps to strengthen school safety. The amended legislation and budget proposal will include the following measures:
- Enact a multi-tiered accountability plan to ensure exterior school doors are locked while students are present, with opportunities for corrective action. State and local law enforcement will be authorized to check for unlocked doors.
- Require that private security guards are held to a high standard and receive active shooter training prior to being posted at Tennessee schools.
- Require every school district to establish threat assessment teams, a nationally recognized best practice to ensure students are connected to support services and behavioral health professionals, when appropriate.
- Require every public and private school to develop annual safety plans, which must include a newly required incident command drill for school leaders and law enforcement to prepare for what to expect in various emergencies.