ATLANTA — A bill in the legislature would implement street gang training programs in Georgia schools and require intruder drills yearly.
In an effort to make school security a priority in 2023, Republicans in the Georgia General Assembly have put traditional issues on a second shelf, like student literacy. And this bill is one of the results.
The House bill aims to make schools safer by adding training programs for school personnel, including teachers, with supporters calling it the “the safe schools act.”
If passed, school districts would be required to create training programs to help school staff identify and deter gang violence, but teachers can opt-out. Schools must conduct intruder alert drills by October 1 of every school year. Parents can decide to opt their students out of the drill.
"They would be in a position that they practice it, and it wouldn’t be completely chaos ensuing if there is an incident," said state Rep. Will Wade (R-Dawsonville), one of Gov. Brian Kemp's House floor leaders. "It gives them an opportunity as a team and as teachers to be able to plan for that, just as they plan for fire drills, tornado drills."
Wade's bill supplements a promise from the governor to give every school in the state $50,000 to fortify their security systems. Some Republicans want to raise that amount.
The head of the state’s largest teacher organization said most schools have quietly implemented many security steps written into the legislation.
"The intruder alert drills are happening," Lisa Morgan, President of the Georgia Association of Educators. "So I think this bill is codifying what’s already happening and putting it into state law."
Morgan also mentioned that gang training in schools had been underway for years.