Zorn school safety bill sent to governor

Sen. Dale Zorn

Sen. Dale Zorn

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn’s legislation to help keep students safe is on its way to the governor to be signed into law.

“Michigan children deserve to have safe schools to learn and succeed — and the school safety hotline has done a fantastic job in helping protect students and save lives,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Michigan’s OK2SAY program is a 24-hour-a-day hotline that gives students a safe and confidential way to report suspicious or threatening behavior.”

OK2SAY enables students to report tips by phone, text message, and email, and through a website or an app. In 2017, the program received 4,605 tips, an increase of 37 percent from 2016.

“In real time, OK2SAY connects tip providers to the state police, who assess the situation and then refer the information to the appropriate school officials or law enforcement,” Zorn said. “My legislation will ensure the state police always have an emergency contact at a school who can receive information about threats at any time and take any necessary action to prevent a tragedy.”

Senate Bill 991 would require, at least twice a year, a governing body of a school to provide the state police with the current emergency contact information for a school official who would receive information submitted through the state school safety hotline — and any accompanying analysis of a potential threat — 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

“This bill is part of a comprehensive effort to enact commonsense, effective solutions to keep our students safe,” Zorn said.

SB 982 would create the Office of School Safety within the state police to update school safety practices, offer staff training and oversee use of school safety grants. SB 983 would require schools to conduct a safety assessment with local law enforcement by the 2019-20 school year and at least every two years thereafter.

Additional measures in the finalized school safety plan include:
• Requiring schools to report attempted acts of violence on school grounds;
• Developing statewide training standards for active-violence situations in schools;
• Ensuring schools work with local law enforcement on new construction or upgrades to school buildings;
• Permanently extending the OK2SAY program;
• Allowing school boards to discuss safety plans in closed-door meetings;
• Creating the School Safety Commission within the state police and requiring the commission to establish school safety metrics and review them regularly; and
• Requiring schools to designate a school safety liaison to work with the commission.

SBs 882, 982-983 and 990-991 and House Bills 5828-5829 and 5850-5852 now head to the governor to be signed.