Legislative Task Force Chairs Unveil Reforms to Improve School Security

The Michigan House School Safety Task Force is introducing a series of bills designed to help improve mental health and security in schools. The series of bills introduced Friday proposes several reforms including the establishment of a State School Safety and Mental Health Commission. The proposed commission would be comprised of nine members with varying qualifications including one with experience in law enforcement, one who is a school psychiatrist, and one who is a parent. The group would work with legislatures, law enforcement, and school administrators to reduce youth suicides and strengthen the mental health of school-aged children across the state.

State Reps. Scott VanSingel and Luke Meerman, task force co-chairs, said the group’s goal was to recommend policy ideas that could effectively improve school safety while receiving broad bipartisan support.

“After six months of productive conversations with task force members and key stakeholders, we’ve created life-saving reforms that will help effectively identify and support young people who are struggling while ensuring our school buildings are safe for students and staff,” said Meerman, R-Coopersville. “Providing better mental health resources to Michigan students is paramount, and our reforms will help ensure vulnerable students get the help they need more quickly, before tragedy strikes.”

Rep. VanSingel, R-Grant, said: “Throughout our thoughtful discussions over the last six months, the task force wisely decided to focus on policy ideas that we could get done together. Keeping our kids safe isn’t something to politicize, and I’ve been honored to work with my Republican and Democrat colleagues on this important task force. Now that these recommendations have become formal legislation, it’s time to continue to work together and get them signed into law.”

Other bills introduced alongside this proposal provide for guidance on security measures when constructing new school buildings, promote the use of school resource officers, and improve guidelines and definitions for school safety plans.

The School Safety Task Force was established by Speaker Jason Wentworth in January, shortly after the Oxford High School shooting, where four students were killed. Other task force members include Reps. Pamela Hornberger, Gary Eisen, Kelly Breen, Ranjeev Puri, Sara Cambensy, and Terry Sabo.