AR lawmakers pass bill to study school safety

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - The tragic deaths of 6 adults and 20 children in the Connecticut school shooting last year has Arkansas{} lawmakers questioning how safe our kids are during school. Monday afternoon, House lawmakers voted to create a task force to explore safety in public schools.

Since the horrific shooting, it's safe to say students, faculty and even parents are a little more on edge and it has led to some false alarms when reporting school intruders.

Earlier this month in Conway, a dad trying to drop of a backpack to his child ended up causing the school to go on lock down.

Just days ago, students saw a man walking around the Hope High School campus with a gun. It ended up being someone lost, asking for directions and he did not have a gun.

Those are just two of many false alarms cases this year.

At the podium on the House floor, Mark Lowery says, "This is an attempt to make sure all the school districts are not reinventing the wheel."

Lowery, a republican House member presented Senator Linda Chesterfields bill (SB 93) to the house. It calls for the Senate and House committee on education to conduct a study on public schools, staff, and policies to determine their readiness and capabilities during an act of violence.

The Speaker of the House says "83 yays, 6 nays. You have passed the bill."

It now goes to Governor Beebe to be approved.

Lowery says, "My interest in it is to make sure that we don't over reach. We want our public schools to be places the public feels invited. They operate on tax dollars and we don't want to be putting up barb wire. We don't want to be doing things were the public doesn't feel invited."

Lowery says some plans in place are just not practical. "On the university level, like at the U of A, the safety plan for students is to throw your books at the shooter, climb under the desk. We know that is not realistic."

Law enforcement and school leaders will be involved in the study.

The report has to be turned in to the education committees by September of 2014. Lowery doesn't expect a blanket approach for all schools; he says they want to identify best practices for districts to consider.