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School Safety Legislation
At the end of December, the Legislature enacted several laws aimed at making Michigan’s schools safer, including new sections of the Revised School Code (RSC) that require schools to work with the newly-created Office of School Safety and the School Safety Commission.
RSC Section 1308a
Section 1308a of the RSC, effective March 21, 2019, requires school districts, ISDs, and PSAs to report to the Michigan State Police (MSP) incidents or attempted incidents involving a crime identified in Section 1310a(2) of the RSC (“crimes involving physical violence, gang-related activity, illegal possession of a controlled substance or controlled substance analogue, or other intoxicant, trespassing and property crimes including, but not limited to, theft and vandalism”). This information must be reported to the Office of School Safety, within 24 hours of the incident’s occurrence. These reports are exempt from disclosure under FOIA. If a school fails to make the required reports, it will be ineligible for MSP-administered school safety grants.
RSC Section 1308b
Section 1308b of the RSC, effective March 21, 2019, requires that school districts, ISDs, and PSAs implement an emergency operations plan and conduct biennial reviews of the plan beginning in the 2019-20 school year. By January 1, 2020, school officials must develop an emergency operations plan for each school building that the school operates. School officials must develop the plan with input from the public, and the plan must be adopted by a majority vote of the school’s board. The Legislature added Section 8(k) to the OMA (effective March 27, 2019) to allow a board to deliberate in closed session to “consider security planning to address existing threats or prevent potential threats to the safety of the students and staff.”
Section 1308b requires that the emergency operations plan include guidelines and procedures that address:
(1) School violence and attacks;
(2) Threats of school violence and attacks;
(3) Bomb threats;
(5) Weather-related emergencies;
(7) Parent and pupil reunification;
(8) Threats to a school-sponsored activity or event whether or not it is held on school premises;
(9) A plan to train teachers on mental health and pupil and teacher safety;
(10) A plan to improve school building security;
(11) An active violence protocol;
(12) Continuity of operations after an incident; and
(13) A vulnerability assessment.
A school that adopts and implements a statewide school safety information policy under the already existing RSC Section 1308 is presumed to satisfy Section 1308b if the plan addresses these 13 issues.
Section 1308b also requires school officials to notify the Michigan Department of Education of the completion of its emergency operations plan review and the adoption of its emergency operations plan within 30 days of completion or adoption of such plan. MDE will report this information to the MSP Office of School Safety. Emergency operations plans developed under Section 1308b and any information provided to MDE or the MSP under Section 1308b is exempt from disclosure under FOIA.
RSC Section 1241
RSC Section 1241 requires a school district, ISD, or PSA board to designate a liaison to work with the newly-created School Safety Commission. The person assigned to be the liaison must be employed or regularly and continuously work under contract with the school. The liaison must work with the School Safety Commission and the Office of School Safety to identify model practices for determining school safety measures.
RSC Section 1264
Section 1264 of the RSC requires school districts, ISDs, and PSAs to consult with the law enforcement agency that is (or will be) the first responder for a school building before starting construction or a major renovation as of March 21, 2019. A “school building” is a building used to provide student instruction or a recreational or athletic structure or field used by students. Because the Legislature did not define “major renovation,” we recommend consulting with legal counsel when planning renovations to school buildings.
Student Safety Act
The Legislature amended Section 3 of the Student Safety Act to require that school district, ISD, and PSA boards provide the MSP with contact information for at least one school official to receive reports of potential safety threats. This contact information must include the days and times the school official is available to receive reports and must be updated at least twice a year.
The Legislature also extended the Student Safety Act until 2021. The Student Safety Act (enacted in 2013) provides a confidential “hotline” reporting system for reports of potential self-harm or potential harm or criminal acts directed at students, school employees, or schools.