Sen. Boucher Statement on SB 1106 – School Safety

April 3, 2013

Hartford, CT – Senator Toni Boucher (R-Wilton) released the following remarks from her testimony on the floor of the Senate re: SB 1160: An Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety.

“When a parent sends their child to school they expect them to be safe. The Sand hook elementary school shooting rampage was a parents, school system, and community if not the nation’s worst nightmare. Newtown teachers, first responders, town leaders, first selectwoman, and the community’s response were heroic. We could not be prouder of them.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my co-chair from the House Rep Fleishman and the members of the committee who are chairs of various relevant committees of the legislature in their own right and added valuable expertise to the final recommendations to the task force.

“On behalf of the conscientious and hardworking bipartisan school security and safety subcommittee members, we thank the staff and the over 200 individuals that supplied testimony and the over 100 who testified in person on this very critical issue.

“To guide our consensus recommendations, the School Security Working Group held two informational forums, the first included Connecticut Association of School superintendent, CABE, Connecticut Association of Schools, Connecticut Association of School Business Officers, State Department of Education- Commissioner, Police Chiefs Association, Fire Chief Association, Board of Regents, UCONN Security Police Chief, CEA, AFT, Connecticut Association of School Administrators, Connecticut Association of School Psychologists, Conference of Connecticut Municipalities and Conference of Small Towns.

“The second included, two recognized threat assessments and forensic psychology experts as well as an additional meeting with state police, State Department of Education school construction personnel and School Resource Officer’s (SRO).

“Our public hearing had over 100 in person testimonies and over 222 written testimonies, and participated in the Newtown public hearing.

“It is important to note that the committee was able to proceed expeditiously with great efficiently and consensus by taking two controversial proposals, off the table.

“One, not creating costly mandated for our towns and cities by requiring quotas for added personnel.

“And two- NOT arming or training teachers for shoot outs. 80-90 percent of all stakeholders opposed this action as well as law enforcement. The potential for collateral damage is too risky when the safety of children and staff is at stake. In fact there was general consensus that schools security guards or armed SRO should be post certified.

School Safety and Security Plans

“In our first meeting, we reviewed current law regarding school safety. And what we learned is that there is no current specific state statute that requires school boards to establish an emergency management plan.

“While we do not have the final police report on the tragedy, I think it is fair to assume that the emergency policies and procedures that were employed by the brave staff and students at Sandy Hook saved lives. We wanted to ensure that not only do we require that every school have a school safety and security plan, but we had to give municipalities the guidance and tools necessary to develop and implement these plans. This was also of prime concern for our schools system who asked for guidelines and best practices to guide their local processes.

  • Section 86 of the bill requires DESPP, with the Department of Education, to develop statewide school security and safety plan standards. Now there are some great plans already utilized by some Connecticut municipalities. Westport has been cited by many as a model.

“We wanted to give municipalities flexibility to develop and implement their own plans, but also have statewide standards that had to be met. The standards developed by DESPP and SDE must include the following components, as recommended by the working group:

  • An all-hazards approach
  • Involvement of local officials, including the chief executive officer of the municipality, the superintendent of schools, law enforcement, fire, public health, emergency management and emergency medical services.
  • A command center organization structure
  • A requirement that a school security and safety committee be established at each school
  • Crisis management procedures
  • A requirement that local law enforcement and other local public safety officials evaluate, score and provide feedback on fire drills and crisis response drills and annually submit reports to DESPP regarding such fire drills and crisis response drills
  • Procedures for managing various types of emergencies
  • A requirement that each local and regional board of education conduct a security and vulnerability assessment for each school under the jurisdiction of such board every two years and develop a school security and safety plan for each such school
  • A requirement that the safe school climate committee, which is the bullying committee, collect and evaluate information relating to instances of disturbing or threatening behavior that may not meet the definition of bullying
  • A requirement that the school security and safety plan for each school provide an orientation on such school security and safety plan to each school employee at such school and provide violence prevention training in a manner prescribed in such school security and safety plan
  • Under the bill, DESPP and SDE must develop these standards by next January. In researching these issues nationwide, we found many states with excellent school safety programs. It is our hope that our agencies do not have to reinvent the wheel, rather, use existing and proven methods.
  • Section 87 of the bill requires local and regional boards of education to develop and implement a school security and safety plan based on the new standards by July 2014, and review and submit such plans on an annual basis.
  • Section 87 also requires the establishment of a school safety and security committee at each school to assist in the development of safety and security plans. The committee must include a local police officer, a local first responder, a teacher and administrator employed at the school, and a mental health professional. The board of education has the ability to name others to the group if they wish, such as perhaps a janitor, or a paraprofessional.

“The subcommittee heard compelling testimony regarding the free flow of information on potentially disturbing behavior in schools. Experts told us that following a school shooting, in interviewing those who had contact with the shooter prior to the incident, many had information that when seen in isolation may not seem like a problem, but when taken together, may have given a clue as to the mental state of the individual. Maybe a student drew something disturbing in art class, or wrote a disturbing essay in English, or perhaps withdrew from sports or other extracurricular activities. We need a mechanism for someone to connect all the dots, and evaluate and report this information.

“This bill utilizes an already existing model in our schools to accomplish this goal, the safe school climate committee, which is in Connecticut’s bullying statutes. Under this bill, this committee would be the repository of disturbing and threatening behavior that do not meet the already established definition of bullying. The idea is to NOT investigate every instance of disturbing and threatening behavior. Rather, to look at all the information in total, and report as necessary to the district safe school climate coordinator and the school security and safety committee.

  • In section 90, we require Mental Health and Addiction Services, with SDE, to administer a mental health first aid training program, and require the district wide safe school climate coordinator to participate in the program.


“The subcommittee discussed the physical infrastructure at our schools, and received valuable public testimony on methods to harden our schools without making them prisons. It is very important to maintain a proper learning environment while balancing safety.

  • Section 80 of the bill establishes a School Safety Infrastructure Council consisting of experts in school and building security. The council must develop school building safety standards by next January. In the bill, we ask the council to develop standards based on some of the recommendations we learned through the subcommittee process, including:
    • Entryways to school buildings and classrooms, such as, reinforcement of entryways, ballistic glass, solid core doors, double door access, computer-controlled electronic locks, remote locks on all entrance and exits and buzzer systems,
    • The use of cameras throughout the school building and at all entrances and exits, including the use of closed-circuit television monitoring,
    • Penetration resistant vestibules, and
    • Any other security infrastructure improvements and devices as they become industry standards.
  • After January of 2014, all new school construction projects must comply with these standards, which will be reimbursable through the regular school construction process. These requirements are contained in sections 81-82.

“But we didn’t want to wait to until 2014 to assist our municipalities with the expense of school security infrastructure, so in section 84, we resurrected a 2007 school security competitive grant program to reimburse towns for certain expenses incurred in the development and improvement of school security.

  • DESPP, Construction Services, and SDE will jointly administer the program, and towns are eligible for a grant percentage equal to the same percentage used for school construction. Once the program is up and running, funds should be available immediately.
  • Sections 85, authorizes bonds in the amount of $15 million for this competitive grant.

Higher Education

“While the sub-committee on school security focused on K-12 we believed that a safety component for our colleges and universities should be raised by the higher education committee for a public hearing, leadership as the leadership of this committee were also represented on the subcommittee.

  • Starting in section 92, the bill mirrors a higher education committee bill that requires each institution of higher education to biennially review their security protocol plans, and submit them to DESPP.
  • Not later than January of next year, each institution must also establish a trained threat assessment team.

“It was a privilege to serve as your co- Chair the School Security subcommittee and proud to report that our recommendations were developed in a bipartisan, consensus manner. The members of the committee are grateful to see that the school security language contained in this bill substantially matches the spirit of the sub-committees recommendations. Thank you, President Williams, Majority Leader Looney and Minority leader Mckinney for your guidance and leadership throughout this difficult but vital process.”

Here is the legislation voted on by the Connecticut General.

Here are the summaries of the legislation.