Multiple bills aimed at helping improve aspects of school safety

Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 7:01 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Many of you wonder about how to keep your kids safe when they’re at school. And lawmakers are thinking of those same questions. But, not all of their proposed solutions are getting positive feedback.

”Parents have a right to believe that their children are are safe when they’re at school, whether it be from a school shooter or whether it be from this extreme form of obscenity.”

Senate Bill 2079 would create the School Safety Guardian Act.

“You don’t want to botched response, like we saw in Uvalde where nobody knew who was in charge,” said the bill’s original author Sen. Angela Hill.

The bill would include additional training for anyone participating and also waive civil liabilities and provide criminal protections to those school staff members. Conceal carry is allowed now if the district “ok’s” it.

Lauderdale County Superintendent Dr. John Mark Cain says they’ve taken other routes of ensuring student safety.

“Our take is, you know, we know our teachers have a lot now, they have a lot to worry about and focus on,” noted Dr. Cain. “And then also there’s the human element of error that’s always involved, too, that you have to consider.”

Cain thinks there is one factor that will impact whether districts opt into the guardian program.

“We have SROs at each campus, we’re blessed to have those individuals,” added Cain. “But again, we’re fortunate because not every not every school district and community has that luxury.”

But not all threats are as obvious. Two bills started as an age verification requirement for websites with pornographic content. But they’ve added in language that impacts what your child can access at school libraries but Toren Ballard with Mississippi First worries the language is too broad.

“What this does is it creates a de facto digital book ban,” said Ballard, Director of K-12 Policy at Mississippi First.

“They’re absolutely wrong,” said Sen. Hill in response. “This is about pornography. This is about parents versus porn peddlers that get their material into the schools.”

“I would argue that there is a reading of this legislation that would effectively ban broad swaths of classic and contemporary literature that we all agree has value for at least some students of certain ages,” added Ballard.

Two different versions of the mature content bill are still alive and some advocates have argued that the Senate version could apply a book ban to more than just kids.

Both are expected to go to a committee where the two chambers will attempt to find a compromise.

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