Senate School Safety Committee offer recommendations ahead of legislative session

Senate School Safety Committee offer recommendations ahead of legislative session

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Parents are weighing in on a school safety report that is making recommendations to Georgia state lawmakers to take action during the 2019 Legislative Session to make schools across the state safer.

David Jones has two young daughters of his own. As he watches them grow he thinks about their safety and was happy to hear about some of the recommendations made by the committee.

The Senate School Safety Committee was created last year and is made up of nine senators from around the state. They held multiple public meetings to hear from parents, teachers, school officials and law enforcement. After hearing concerns about school safety, they put together resolutions to present during the legislative session.

Some of the resolutions include more training for teachers and using mobile phone apps to anonymously notify state and local authorities of suspicious activity or threats.

“I feel like having the app is good," said Jones. "They don’t feel like snitches. That’s another thing that makes it even worse. Snitching. And it makes it ten times worse for more motivation to bring it to school. So, I think the app is a good idea.”

The committee was presented with information that counselors in Georgia's school system are relied on to provide career and class counseling to students as well as mental health counseling. The committee recommends a specialized mental health counselor that would be funded by either increased state funding or by creating legislation allowing local governments to use ESPLOST funds.

“I think that’s a good idea to have that in there and somebody that’s really been certified and been teaching. And not just that, certified to deal with mental health people. It’s different levels of escalation that will come to anybody and it takes that right person who knows what they are doing, doing it for a good bit of time, doing it for a long time to bring that person back down," said Jones.

The recommendations go on to say they believe parents should be held accountable for allowing children to bring dangerous materials or weapons to schools, going as far as felony penalties.

Jones says he believes a big part of children bringing weapons to school is because of bullying.

"Myself growing up, I have been bullied in school. For right now, folks use weapons for protection because they feel like it's just them. No one is there to help them."

But as far as blaming the parents and giving them penalties, he says it depends on the situation.

“To an extent they should be held accountable. Then again, they shouldn’t. It depends on the situation.”

To see the full list of recommendations click here.

All the recommendations are given to state lawmakers for consideration during the upcoming 2019 Legislative Session.

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