Governor’s school safety report calls for more mental health resources

Staff Report
TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS—Gov. Eric Holcomb has released a study on school safety that recommends regular active shooting drills and boosting mental health spending to identify troubled students and enhance services available.

“Ensuring every one of our students has a safe place to learn and grow is of the utmost importance,” Holcomb said in a statement when he released the report Friday. “This assessment is an important step toward helping our schools be better prepared for the unknown.”

The report, prepared over the past several months in the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida, and Noblesville shootings, has 18 recommendations organized around mental health services, tools and training, and policy changes.

Holcomb said he will immediately take steps to implement some of the recommendations:

  • The Department of Homeland Security will start the process to create an Indiana school safety hub that will put all resources in a single online location for schools and parents. The safety hub would include mass notification capabilities and virtual training resources.
  • The state police will set up and develop an anonymous tip line so individuals can anonymously report crimes, suspicious or drug activities, acts of violence or anything else that might pose a threat to a school.
  • The integrate public safety commission will develop a self-evaluation tool so they know whether their communication systems are effective.
  • The state budget agency will determine how much the recommendations will cost and how they can be funded, whether through existing programs or other local, state or federal resources.

In addition to active shooter drills in schools and enhancing mental health services, the report also recommended:

  • Increasing funding flexibility for local law enforcement presence in schools;
  • Identifying and implementing a universal mental health screening tool for schools to use;
  • And creating funding flexibility for school safety grants.

Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, Sen. Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville, who is president pro tem-elect of the Senate, and House Minority Leader Terry Goodin, D-Austin, all expressed their willingness to work with the governor on measures to improve school safety.

A team of state leaders and subject matter experts from across the state conducted in-person and phone interviews, online surveys, and community forums to gather feedback for the report. More than 400 responses were collected from school administrators, educators, first responders, public safety officials and others.

The report was compiled by a working group formed by Indiana Department of Homeland Security Director Bryan Langley, in conjunction with David Woodward, the Indiana Department of Education’s Director of School Building Physical Security and Safety.

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