Rep. Emerson Levy, D-Bend, has introduced legislation that would require schools to hold regular drills and instructions on safety threats and natural disasters, plus add a “panic alarm. It comes a day after a telephoned threat led to several Bend schools to be placed in “Secure” lockout.
House Bill 3101 would require a silent panic alarm that can send an immediate alert to law enforcement when there is perceived safety threat within the school building.
The bill would also call for at least two safety drills per year on earthquakes and safety threats, plus 30 minutes of instruction each month on fires, earthquakes and safety threats. The safety threat drills and instruction would include procedures related to lockdowns, lockouts, shelter in place and evacuation.
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HB 3101 is also known as “Alyssa’s Law.” It’s named for Alyssa Alhadeff, a 14-year-old who was one of the victims of the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.
Versions of “Alyssa’s Law” have been passed in Florida and New Jersey and others are pending approval.
One of those offering written testimony is Bend Mayor Melanie Kebler on behalf of the city council.
“Installing panic alarms in every school across Deschutes County will not guarantee student safety. It will, however, add to the toolkit we’ve already deemed necessary – a toolkit that includes training, and drills, and educator time devoted to addressing school safety,” Kebler wrote.
Another written testimony was submitted by Connie Peterson of Bend, who specifically references Thursday’s threat that suggested someone with weapons was outside Bend High School and was preparing to go inside. Bend Police later said it was determined the call came from outside the country.
“Anything that can increase a sense of safety in our schools should be done, but the mobile alert system proposed in Alyssa’s law is an important and cost-effective beginning,” Peterson wrote.
A public hearing on the bill is scheduled for Monday at 3:00 p.m. in the House Committee On Education.
Levy represents District 53, which covers north Bend, south Redmond, Tumalo, Sisters, Eagle Crest and Black Butte.