Governor Gavin Newsom has signed Senate Bill 541 into law by Senators Patricia Bates (R–Laguna Niguel) and Anthony Portantino (D–La Cañada Flintridge). As amended, SB 541 will require the California Department of Education to report on the use of existing lockdown drills in K-12 public schools.
Senator Bates said, “The Governor's signing of SB 541 is a step in the right direction to ensure that all students, teachers, and staff are prepared for other dangers besides fires. This bill signing is not the end, but a continuation of a long-term bipartisan effort to bolster school safety. I thank Senator Portantino, our legislative colleagues, and Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes on working together to ensure that this effort is done thoughtfully with the well-being of children in mind.”
Senator Portantino stated, “School shootings have become an all-too-frequent occurrence in California. It is unacceptable that simply going to school can feel dangerous for many students. As a father, I cannot sit idly by while our children witness regular violence at school. I believe that this bill has the potential to save lives and I’m happy to have had the opportunity to work with Senator Bates on this issue.”
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.
Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes, who supports SB 541, said, “Even with the best of efforts and systems in place, we must always be prepared for the worst possibility – an active threat situation on a school campus. Preparation means practice. Students, faculty, and parents must know what to do and what is expected in the event an active shooter or other incident of violence occurs. SB 541 moves California towards a much needed preparatory component to protect our students.”