Kosowski Introduces Legislation to Strengthen School Safety

Bills would create School Safety Task Force, amend Open Meetings Act, require lockdown drills
Thursday, January 19, 2017

LANSING — Throughout the first two weeks of the new legislative session, state Rep. Robert Kosowski (D-Westland) introduced several pieces of legislation to strengthen school safety throughout Michigan. 

First, House Bill 4023 would create a School Security Task Force. The task force would be housed within the Michigan State Police (MSP) and be comprised of members from the MSP, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, and appointees of the governor. Under the legislation, the task force would be required to gather information concerning school shootings throughout the state, create recommendations and guidelines for school policies and procedures, and submit a report with recommendations to the governor and Legislature.

“I can think of nothing more important than guaranteeing our children are safe and our schools have the best policies in place to prevent and react to school shootings,” Kosowski said.  “House Bill 4023 would allow Michigan to be forward-thinking and to implement policies to ensure our schools are as secure as possible and know how to deal with an incident, should it arise.”

Kosowski also introduced House Bill 4027 last week, which would create an exemption from the Open Meetings Act and to allow school boards to meet in closed session when discussing security planning to address existing threats or to prevent potential threats to the safety of students and staff members. The Open Meetings Act was originally enacted in 1976 with the intent of giving all Michigan citizens the right to know what happens in government by requiring public bodies to conduct nearly all business in open meetings. 

“I understand that Michigan’s citizens should have the right to know what is going on in this state,” Kosowski said.  “However, protecting our children and making sure they have a safe learning environment should be a given right as well. I believe my legislation does a good job of merging these two ideas — school boards would only be allowed to go into closed meetings when dealing specifically with security planning. This is just common sense, as we do not necessarily want the public to know of a school’s security protocol.”

And finally, Kosowski sponsored House Bill 4061, which would require schools to conduct at least three lockdown drills per year and report those drills to the Michigan State Police after they have been completed. 

“We are all too well aware of the incidents of school violence that have been plaguing our country in recent years,” Kosowski said. “We, as legislators, need to ensure our children’s safety at school is a top priority. This legislative session, I plan on continuing to work with the other side of the aisle and to introduce more legislation to strengthen security and safety throughout Michigan’s schools.”