301.519.9237 exdirector@nesaus.org

4.7.23 – The Center Square

The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is calling on the Legislature to fund a school resource officer for every school, but at least one lawmaker is suggesting a different approach.

The BESE unanimously approved a resolution this week to “urge and request that each Louisiana public school system enter into agreements with a local law enforcement agency to provide for a school resource officer at every public school and to annually report to the state Department of Education the total number of school resource officers provided to the system.”

A second adopted resolution requests “each Louisiana public school system be allocated adequate funding to enter into” those agreements.

“There should be no higher priority than ensuring the safety of our children,” said BESE President Dr. Holly Boffy. “We urge our partners in the local systems and state lawmakers to take this step in protecting our schools. In addition to strengthening on-site security presence, resource officers can play key roles in developing best practices and procedures for schools to prevent threats to student and employee safety.”

The resolutions, adopted on April 5, stem from recommendations from a Louisiana School Safety Summit hosted by the Louisiana Department of Education last summer. A follow up survey to the summit found about 73% of schools that responded currently have a school resource officer.

While the BESE proposal’s cost to the state is unknown, at least one senator is suggesting a different approach that would undoubtedly cost less.

Sen. Eddie Lambert, R-Gonzalez, pre-filed Senate Bill 158 in late March to allow schools to designate school protection officers with the authority to carry a concealed handgun on campus.

The legislation is similar to Mississippi’s Senate Bill 2079, which was approved by the Mississippi Legislature on Monday and now awaits Gov. Tate Reeves’ signature. The Mississippi bill includes a monthly stipend of no less than $100 but not more than $500 for those participating in the program.

SB158 would allow schools to designate school protection officers with the authority to carry a concealed handgun on campus with proof of a valid concealed handgun permit and certificate showing completion of the minimum Peace Officer Standards and Training necessary to be a peace officer.

The bill would require school districts to notify the superintendent of State Police of the names, date of birth and addresses of any person designated as a school protection officer within a month.

“Notwithstanding any other provisions of law to the contrary, any identifying information collected under the authority of this Subsection shall not be considered public information and shall not be subject to a request for public records,” the bill reads.

SB158 further states the superintendent of State Police “shall maintain a list of all persons designated by school districts as school protection officers and shall make this list available to all law enforcement agencies.”

SB158 was provisionally referred to the Senate Committee on Education.