Along with the deluge of legislation approved by California lawmakers this week, are specific bills mandating classroom door locks, school safety plans, and a bill entitling school employees to file gun violence restraining orders. The bills are currently on the Governor’s desk awaiting a veto or signature.
None of the aforementioned bills are as high-profile as those introduced after the Parkland, Florida massacre, which called for armed officers and a much higher number of mental health professionals in all schools. A substantially watered-down version of the mental health bill was passed, but the armed officer bill died on the Assembly floor.
Those who authored these scaled-back measures say they are essential to the safety of all California students. Below is a summary of each bill currently awaiting Governor Brown’s approval:
AB 3205–Locks on Classroom Doors
Authored by Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell (D) AB 3205 mandates that all school renovation projects completed with funds acquired from the state include inside locks on any classroom with an occupancy of five or more. The bill essentially expands such requirements to current classrooms, which would be renovated with state bond funds, beginning in 2019. Depending on the number of rooms renovated, the anticipated yearly cost may be as much as $750,000.
School safety experts have applauded the bill for setting a minimum standard, while still allowing school districts to freely choose the kind of locks they prefer.
AB 1747 School Safety Plans
AB 1747 expands on current legislation concerning school safety plans, including response procedures to situations involving gunmen.
The bill, in part, mandates that schools conduct yearly shooter drills and that additional guidance and safety planning be offered by the California Department of Education. The bill’s annual statewide cost is estimated at five million dollars.
AB 2888 Gun Violence Restraining Orders
Authored by Assemblyman Phil Ting (D) AB 2888 is not a school safety bill in specific. Rather, it amends the “red flag” law to add school personnel to the list of people who can seek temporary restraining orders to rescind individuals’ gun rights if they are a threat to others or themselves. The current law is written to allow only immediate family members or law enforcement personnel to file such orders.
Ting states that by expanding the law, individuals are able to react proactively if they see a problem. Nevertheless, he realizes this bill may face more opposition from the governor than the others, as a similar bill was vetoed by Brown in 2016 due to concerns about potential overuse.