FRANKFORT, KY. (Feb. 22, 2024) Today, Senator Max Wise, representing Campbellsville and a member of the Republican Party, announced the introduction of Senate Bill 2 (SB 2) aimed at fortifying school safety measures and advancing trauma-informed care in Kentucky's educational institutions. Following the Senate's adjournment, Senator Wise filed SB 2, underscoring its status as a priority legislation crucial for fostering a secure learning environment for students and staff across the Commonwealth.
A pivotal feature of SB 2 is the establishment of the Kentucky Guardian program, empowering school districts to engage employees to bolster safety and security on school premises. Beginning with the 2025-26 school year, local school boards facing challenges in meeting School Resource Officer (SRO) coverage prerequisites may contract one or more guardians. These guardians, who may be honorably discharged military veterans, retired Kentucky state troopers, retired law enforcement officers, and former federal agents, are designated to provide temporary safety measures until certified SROs become available. Subsequently, school districts may opt to retain guardians to augment existing security infrastructure, with no obligation for participation if SROs are already in place.
"SB 2 represents the logical progression in safeguarding Kentucky's students, educators, and school staff,” said Wise. Feedback from teachers and parents underscores our commitment to enhancing safety measures, allowing them to focus on educating our youth and fostering their development."
Guardians will undergo rigorous screening processes, including background checks, medical examinations, and proficiency assessments. They will be identifiable by a unique uniform and authorized to carry concealed weapons on school premises. Additionally, SB 2 requires collaboration between local boards and law enforcement to ensure ready identification by external agencies.
In addition to enhancing security measures, SB 2 addresses trauma-informed care by integrating school psychologists, social workers, SROs, and mental health service providers into a comprehensive team. This multidisciplinary approach aims to support students affected by trauma, identify mental health issues, and promote resilience and wellness among all students.
Moreover, SB 2 mandates increased suicide prevention awareness and training for teachers and students, expanding the scope of intervention and support for at-risk students. It also permits the implementation of secondary locking mechanisms on classroom doors, provided they comply with the Kentucky Building Code.
SB creates the School Mapping Data Program to be administered by the Kentucky Center for School Safety. This program will establish a single verified source of mapping data for school campuses that will be standardized and accessible to public safety agencies to ensure efficient response to any school campus emergency.
"SB 2 represents a holistic approach to school safety and mental health support. By prioritizing prevention, intervention, and collaboration, we are laying the foundation for a safer educational environment where our children can achieve,” said Wise.
SB 2 also directs the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) to provide technical assistance, professional development, and training on childhood trauma experiences. It also requires the maintenance and updating of anonymous reporting tools in each district by the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security, facilitating community engagement in ensuring school safety.
SB 2 underscores Kentucky's commitment to proactive measures aimed at safeguarding its educational institutions and nurturing the well-being of its students and staff.
Keystone effort by the General Assembly was the School Safety and Resiliency Act of 2019, Sponsored by Senator Max Wise
- Filed in response to the shooting at Marshall County High School that had two deaths and more than a dozen wounded
- In 2020, the School Safety and Resiliency Act was amended by SB 8 where School Resource Officers were defined in statute
- Essentially a clean-up bill that sought to clarify and specify the responsibilities of SROs (School Resource Officers)
- Clarified when a person is guilty of Terroristic Threatening
- 250:1 (School Counselor : Student) ratio for mental health services, as a goal
- In 2022 the School Safety and Resiliency Act was amended by HB 63 which:
- Amended KRS 158.4414 to require the assignment of school resource officers to schools by August 1, 2022
- Notably allowed the formation of police departments by the schools themselves to help in the hiring process of SROs
- In July of 2023, Senator Wise told members of the Task Force on School and Campus Security that 28 other states had adopted part or all of the School Safety and Resiliency Act
- 1st Meeting: Presentation of SB 1 of 2019 (School Safety and Resiliency Act)
- An information session establishing background, concerns, and thoughts put into the 2019 bill as well as a recent history of its amendments
- 2nd Meeting: Kentucky Center for School Safety & Office of the State School Security Marshal
- Lengthy discussion on SRO training and how it would be absorbed by the Department of Criminal Justice (DOCJ)
- 3rd Meeting: Strengthening Trauma-informed Schools for Prevention and Resiliency
- Revolved around the need for specialized mental health services within Kentucky schools
Senator Max Wise, R-Campbellsville, represents the 16th Senate District, including Adair, Allen, Metcalfe, Monroe, and Taylor Counties and eastern Warren County. He is Senate Economic Development, Tourism and Labor Committee chair. Wise also serves as a Senate Education Committee member and is a member of the newly formed Families and Children Committee and Health Services Committee. Additionally, he is an Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee member.