DES MOINES — All schools in Iowa would be required to have emergency plans for active shooter situations and natural disasters by June 30, 2019, under legislation approved unanimously late Tuesday in the Senate.
School officials would be required to consult with law enforcement and emergency management agencies to develop protocols. The plans would be confidential and exempt from the state’s open records law, said Sen. Tim Kraayenbrink, R-Fort Dodge, the bill’s floor manager.
“This will help ensure that our schools are prepared for the worst and have good practices in place to keep our children safe,” Kraayenbrink said. “While we hope these plans never have to be used, it is essential that our schools have emergency operation plans developed in preparation for the worst-case scenario.”
According to the Iowa Department of Education, 88 percent of Iowa school districts have security plans in place, but less than 10 percent have high-quality plans with “walk-through” drills for school personnel, Kraayenbrink said. The security requirement was being drafted before last month’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in which 17 people were killed.
Kraayenbrink said the Senate Education Committee decided the safety of Iowa children needed to be prioritized by having schools adopt security plans. On Tuesday, senators amended Senate File 2364 to include state-accredited non-public schools.
Other provisions of the bill, which passed 50-0 and now heads to the Iowa House, require school personnel know the procedures for reporting potential threats to law enforcement and undergo training once a year on plans that are reviewed and updated annually.
Kraayenbrink noted school security plans will not be subject to open records requests because the safety of children would be enhanced if the information is not publicly known.
“In the case of an active shooter, we do not want the shooter knowing the protocol for the movements and lockdown procedures of our children,” he said.