Assembly Education Committee Approves Bipartisan School Lockdown Drill Bill

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The Assembly Education Committee today approved Senate Bill 541 by Senators Patricia Bates (R–Laguna Niguel) and Anthony Portantino (D–La Cañada Flintridge) that would require all kindergarten through 12th grade public and private schools, with an occupant capacity of 50 or more students, to conduct one lockdown drill or multi-option response per school year. The next stop for the bill is the Assembly Appropriations Committee. The Senate previously approved SB 541 on May 23.

California’s Education Code currently requires elementary schools to conduct fire drills regularly and intermediate level and secondary schools to conduct such drills at least twice a year. However, existing law does not require training for any other types of threats that may occur on a campus. Some school districts have voluntarily taken it upon themselves to conduct additional drills for other threats.

SB 541 is sponsored by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and would ensure that the vast majority of California’s schools conduct a lockdown drill each year. The bill clarifies that drills should be age-appropriate and that school officials should consider the emotional impact of the drills when planning and conducting them.

In February 2018, the Wall Street Journal published a commentary about the need for active-shooter drills on campus, citing that most deaths occur within the first five minutes. Even when armed officers are present, many times, such as the Parkland, Florida, shooting, police arrive too late to intervene. If students and teachers receive training, lives may be saved.

Senator Bates authored similar legislation last year (SB 1203), but it stalled in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.