Okla. School Safety Group Recommends Mental Health Training

Published: March 5, 2013

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — The Oklahoma Commission on School Safety released legislative suggestions Tuesday, including a call for mental health training for campus staff and a new security tip line.

The state formed the 22-member commission after the Sandy Hook Elementary School incident, Tusla World reports. Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, the commission’s chair, expects legislators to react favorably to the group’s five school security recommendations that he claims will cost less than $1 million.

The recommendations include:

1) Formation of the Oklahoma School Security Institute (OSSI) — The OSSI will operate under the Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security and will be a center of best practices and a resource for schools across the state to make their school environments safer. As the OSSI develops, some long term study goals may focus on School Resource Officers, school architectural design and bullying, as well as other security issues. The OSSI will be the focal point for coordinating and providing training in school safety and security procedures to Oklahoma schools, to provide a safe and secure environment for students, teachers, and staff members.

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The Oklahoma School Security Institute (OSSI) will serve as a complete provider of standardized safety and security training for Oklahoma. The OSSI will coordinate with other agencies to provide training to law enforcement in response to security incidents that occur in schools. The OSSI may also coordinate training opportunities to any discipline that interacts with schools in an effort to increase safety and security. (Mental Health, Emergency Medical, Fire Service, etc.) Working with subject matter experts, the OSSI will identify training needs and work to provide training courses to satisfy those needs.

2) Establishing a Mental Health First Aid Training Pilot Program — The pilot program should be voluntary and incorporate the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS) and district superintendents in its formation.

The pilot program should consider a two-prong approach:

a. Train the trainers model

b. Certified mental health training

All aspects of the mental health pilot program should not place any additional mandates on school personnel.

3) Amend and change state law to require school intruder drills — School intruder drills should be conducted by school districts across the state along with fire and tornado drills. By including these school intruder drills, school personnel are given extra training they can use in the event of an unforeseen intrusion. Required school drills are not found in one codified location. The law needs to be amended so school personnel can easily locate what drills are required.

Each public school in the State of Oklahoma should conduct a minimum of 10 school safety drills per school year, in which all students, school employees and visitors participate. Such drills shall conform to the written plans and procedures produced by

the OSSI and adopted by the district for protecting against natural and man-

made disasters and emergencies. These drills will include fire, tornado and school intruder drills and any additional drills the school wants to conduct as each district deems appropriate.

4) Require the reporting of firearms to local law enforcement — The principal or school administrator of the school site where a firearm is discovered, should immediately report the discovery of the firearm to the local enforcement having jurisdiction for that school district.

5) Establishing a school security tip line — A tip line should be reinstituted for parents, teachers, students and administrators that is available to call in suspicious activity. The Oklahoma Commission on School Security recommends that this tip line be operated by the new Oklahoma School Security Institute (OSSI) in coordination with additional law enforcement as needed.

Lamb noted that developing OSSI would be the most expensive proposal, costing roughly $500,000 in the first year. The mental health training is priced around $245,000.

Read the full report.

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