Governor signs school security bill

Published 4:08 pm Wednesday, May 10, 2023

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Gov. Bill Lee signed into law Wednesday a bill that will cost the state $230 million to expand the number of Homeland Security and school resource officers in the state along with funding school security upgrades for public and private schools.

The plan includes $140 million for an SRO grant fund for security guards in every public school, $30 million to expand the state’s homeland security network with 122 agents serving students at public and private schools as well as $20 million for public school security, $7 million for private school security and $8 million for school-based behavioral health liaisons.

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“Nothing is more important than Tennessee students and teachers returning home from school safely each day,” Lee said in a press release. “Every year since 2019, we’ve worked with the General Assembly to prioritize school safety, and this year, we’ve passed significant measures to fund an armed SRO for every public school, enhance mental health support and boost physical security at public and private schools across Tennessee.”

The bill came after the Covenant School shooting where an attacker shot and killed six people after breaking through the front door of the Nashville school and firing 152 rounds before being shot and killed by Metro Nashville Police.

The bill also includes additional requirements and accountability for schools to keep exterior doors locked when students are in the building and requires all school districts to have a threat assessment team.

“More needed to be done and we answered that call this session,” Tennessee Lieutenant Gov. Randy McNally said in a statement. “Hardening security at our public and private schools is no longer just a priority, it is an imperative. The safety of our schools is of paramount importance and I am grateful we were in the financial position to quickly allocate the funds for these improvements.”