OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – School security remains top of mind for Oklahomans. Thursday, three state legislators held a study at the Oklahoma State Capitol to learn what safety laws should be pushed for in the upcoming legislative session.
Many voices were raised at the interim study, led by Democratic State Representative Jacob Rosecrants – District 46, Republican State Representative Daniel Pae – District 62, and State Senator John Michael Montgomery – District 32.
They listened to various perspectives concerning school safety protocols, culture, and the differences between protecting urban, suburban, and rural schools.
Presenters included the Oklahoma School Security Institute, Office of School Safety and Security, National Association of School Psychologists, Professional Oklahoma Educators, Oklahoma PTA, Bartlesville Public Schools, Okay Public Schools, Oklahoma City Public Schools, and Norman Public Schools.
“There were several takeaways,” sed Rep. Pae afterwards. “I think, number one, we need to invest in student mental health. So, I mentioned at the end the idea of having mental health days across school districts.”
The insights will be used to propose new laws.
“We don’t really have standardized training or protocols for school resource officers, and I think that can be a good idea for legislation,” said Pae in reflection of another recommendation put forward by the presenters.
Rosecrants seconded the need for standardized RSO training, among his takeaways from the study.
“Well, first of all, I would say that we’re all on the same page. We need to make our schools safer,” he said. “And let’s be honest, I wasn’t kidding when I said we have to depoliticize this issue.”
One area of interest for the group was arming teachers.
Professional Oklahoma Educators presented a survey of over 1,400 educators. One of the questions asked, “Do you support arming school personnnel with a handgun who volunteer and undergo appropriate training as part of your school’s overall security plan?” This included arming teachers.
60.65 percent say they support it, 21.91 said they do not support it, with 17.45 responding neutral. Of the Rural school educators, 63.99 percent showed support and of the urban school educators, 50.94 percent showed support.
The Oklahoma PTA also surveyed parents with one of the questions being similar, asking, “Do you think the arming of school personnel should be part of the overall school security plan?”
54 percent said yes, 27.6 percent said yes, but only security officers/guards, not other faculty/staff, and 18.3 percent said no.
The state lawmakers who put together this interim study said they’ll now debrief and plan which recommendations they’ll turn into proposed legislation at the upcoming legislative session.