Sen. Ruth Johnson sponsors school threat reporting bill

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Ruth Johnson on Thursday turned in legislation to require mandatory reporting of threats in schools to law enforcement agencies.

“All children deserve to feel safe and be safe at school. We had a horrific tragedy in Oakland County at Oxford High School. I have represented this area for many years and it breaks my heart,” said Johnson, R-Holly. “I’ve attended a few of the candlelight vigils, and the community support has been strong. In my role as a legislator, I am looking at what steps we can take to help prevent a tragedy like this from happening again — and this bill is one of those steps.”

Senate Bill 789 would require schools in Michigan to make an immediate report to law enforcement whenever school personnel become aware of information that a reasonable person would believe constitutes an actual or implied threat of violence.

Schools would be required to implement appropriate policies and procedures to ensure any threats of violence are reported immediately to law enforcement and to provide training to all school personnel about their obligations and responsibilities to ensure the same.

“Law enforcement has more expertise and experience in evaluating threats, and all threats should be taken seriously. Schools could still take additional steps to address threats, but this reform would ensure they are reported to authorities,” Johnson said. “My bill can be part of an effort to better protect our students and school employees. I also hope that it is also part of a collaborative discussion with schools and law enforcement on how to best keep our kids safe.”

Johnson said she is also working on additional funding for school safety grants for school districts to make security upgrades, like installing metal detectors, video cameras or special security locks for classroom doors — which were in place at Oxford and helped keep students who got to a classroom safe.

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