Bipartisan Michigan School Safety Reform Plan Introduced in State Senate

Sheriffs, Police Chiefs, school officials praise new legislation to prevent violence in Michigan schools

Lansing, MI—  A coalition comprised of Michigan’s top law enforcement and education groups today praised Republicans and Democrats in the state Senate for the introduction of new legislation aimed at preventing violence in the classroom. The Senate package, led by state Sen. Margaret O’Brien (R-Portage), Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) and Sen. Jim Ananich (D-Flint) is modeled after a proposal announced by the coalition in late March. Similar bills were introduced in the state House earlier this month.

The Michigan School Safety Reform Plan is based on clear, actionable strategies that are both effective and immediately achievable.

“School shootings and bomb threats continue to dominate the headlines. The proposal we announced in March was important because it was non-partisan and would have an immediate impact,” said Paul Bailey, Berrien County Sheriff and President of the Michigan Sheriffs Association. “When is comes to school violence Michigan law enforcement and Michigan school leaders agree—enough is enough. We are pleased legislation has now been introduced to help address the issue.”

Said Clifford Block, Midland Police Chief and President of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police: “Safer schools start with prevention. These common sense reforms will equip our schools with the tools and resources they need to identify threats before they happen, and prevent tragedies before they occur.”

The plan calls for a new state grant program for personnel, a grant program for safety infrastructure, and other reforms, including:

  • More school resource officers—sheriffs and police—working in school facilities through a new state grant program;
  • More school mental health professionals to identify problems early through the same new state grant program;
  • Grants to ensure safer buildings for students and teachers; and
  • Mandatory reporting of threats and graduated penalties to help prevent violence.

"Nothing is more important than the safety of our children,” Sen. O’Brien said. “This legislation gives Michigan schools the chance to prevent the next tragedy before it happens. It is our responsibility to act."

Said Sen. Jones: “During my time as a sheriff I learned what a difference a present and caring member of law enforcement can make in a local school or community. This package means safer schools and safer kids.”

Michael Rochholz, President of the Michigan Association of School Boards agrees. “Giving schools the resources needed to update security in school buildings or putting more school resource officers on school property will help to keep our children safe and help prevent tragedies before they happen. We also need to increase the ratio of school counselors and social workers to help assist with early intervention.” 

Currently, Michigan’s student to school counselor ratio is roughly 750 to 1. The student to school social workers ratio is 1,000 to 1. The student to school psychologist ratio is roughly 4,800 to 1. All ratios are well below recommended levels.

“It makes sense to provide courts the appropriate tools to work with troubled students to get them the help they need,” said Sen. Ananich. “As a former teacher, I know that we have to move away from this one-size-fits-all approach. These bills allow us to work with students and hopefully help them begin to turn their lives around."

The plan also calls for improved reporting of school safety threats.

The Michigan School Safety Reform Plan is made up of Senate Bills 1030, 1032 and additional legislation, and is backed by:

  •          Michigan Sheriffs Association
  •          Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police
  •          Michigan Association of School Administrators
  •          Michigan Association of School Boards
  •          Michigan Association of School Psychologists
  •          Michigan Association of School Social Workers
  •          Michigan School Counselors Association
  •          Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan