Utah lawmakers introduce school safety bills

Feb 2, 2023, 6:18 PM | Updated: 7:34 pm

SALT LAKE CITYLawmakers have unveiled a number of school safety bills after hearing concerns from their constituents.

They say Utahns are especially concerned about their children following violent incidents happening on campuses across the country.

The five Republican representatives said they want students to feel safe at school no matter where they live in Utah.

“We have dramatically unequal levels of distribution of security and response,” said Rep. Ryan Wilcox.

Wilcox wants to start by creating a School Security Task Force. The group would design emergency training for school staff and set security standards for classrooms across Utah.

Rep. Dan Johnson said more and more students are chronically absent from school. He is advocating for more prevention and support for these students to get attendance rates back up.

Rep. Karianne Lisonbee said a school-to-prison pipeline was created as an unintended result of previous legislation. She said students are committing crimes on campus in front of security officers.

She called HB304 a teacher retention bill.

Lisonbee said student’s behavior issues are the number one reason why Utah teachers are leaving their jobs. She said this could be fixed if law enforcement and courts communicated more with schools and parents.

“In the Taylorsville incident recently, the school addressed that that individual had been justice involved the previous week, and the school had no idea, and the juvenile was referred back to the school, but the administration had no idea that they had committed multiple crimes,” Lisonbee said.

Many of these bills were heard in the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee on Thursday.

KSL TV will continue to track their progress throughout this legislative session.

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Utah lawmakers introduce school safety bills