Sen. Hwang Renews Call for Safe School Legislation

December 15, 2015

On Mar. 20, Sen. Hwang joined Newtown Police Chief Michael Kehoe, St. Rose of Lima School parent Maureen Reidy, and Rep. Mitch Bolinsky in calling for increased penalties for threats of violence against schools. Sen. Hwang will re-introduce the proposal in 2016.

After the nation’s second-largest school district shut down Dec. 15 as a result of a school board member receiving an emailed threat, Sen. Tony Hwang said he will re-introduce legislation in Connecticut to increase state penalties for threats of violence against schools.

The anonymous Dec. 15 threat shut down the Los Angeles school district and is being investigated.

New York City officials say they and many cities nationwide received the same threat and determined it was a hoax.

Sen. Hwang noted that in October, Fairfield locked down all 17 of its public schools due to a series of called-in threats.

“These threats of violence against schools highlight the need to get tougher,” Sen. Hwang said. “And if someone does commit such a despicable act, they should face severe penalties that bring the punishment more in line with the crime. The threats in Connecticut and around the country reinforce the need to strengthen our laws in this area.”

Sen. Hwang’s proposal would set a new standard on how states can respond to the growing rate of threats of violence against schools.

In the last legislative session, he introduced and championed The Zero-Tolerance Safe School Environment Act.

The bill, which passed unanimously in the State Senate but was never called for a vote in the House of Representatives, called for the creation of a new section under the state’s existing threatening laws.

Under that new section, first-degree threatening would become a Class C felony and second-degree threatening would become a Class D felony.
Under existing law, first-degree threatening is a Class D felony and second-degree threatening is a Class A misdemeanor.

The felony charges carry stiffer sentences.

The 2016 session of the Connecticut General Assembly convenes on Feb. 3.

Hwang represents Easton, Fairfield, Newtown, Weston and Westport in the state Senate.