The Senate and House of Representatives on Thursday voted to approve House Bill 6, referred to as the “School Security Act of 2013". The bill, sponsored by Rep. Eric Watson (R–Cleveland), "seeks to prevent school violence by providing faculty with the resources needed to protect Tennessee students."
The bill gives the option to a school district to hire security personnel, such as law enforcement, retired law enforcement, veterans, or a staff member who is willing to serve as a security staff member to protect the schools.
Rep. Watson said, "I am appreciative of my colleagues for their 82–15 vote. I have been committed in my efforts to give parents, children, and school employee’s peace of mind and have pledged to ensure that the local education agencies have the tools needed. This legislation would not only provide that, but it also will allow for an important measure of defense for protecting students and faculty should the need arise during the school day.
”From Governor Haslam, to the Department of Education, Department of Commerce and Insurance, Sheriffs Association, school boards, chiefs of police, the Tennessee Education Association, the Professional Educators of Tennessee, and the NRA, have all shown their support for this legislation."
The bill on Thursday morning passed 27 to 6 in the Senate under sponsorship of Senator Frank Niceley. From this point, it will head to the governor for his signature.
Governor Haslam has included $34 million (recurring) in BEP money that schools could use for this purpose should they choose to do so. The local school districts will not only have the opportunity to enact this permissive legislation, but they also have the option to add qualifications and requirements as they see fit.
Eric Watson is Chairman of the House Criminal Justice Committee and serving his fifth term in the Tennessee House of Representatives. He lives in Cleveland and represents District 22, which includes Meigs, Polk, and Bradley County.