Representative Hagenow,

Thank-you for the update.  I’m a 20 year veteran public school teacher.  I find it offensive that the only problems you identify with school safety exist within the walls of the school.  Gun violence is a societal illness, a public health emergency, and ultimately will prove to be one of the defining political issues of our time.  Your message calls out school districts for “inadequate” active shooter plans.  The reality is we are doing literally all we can every day to keep kids safe.  This school year I feel we’ve reached a point that the logistical and physical blockades we are throwing at a potential active shooter are creating real roadblocks to education.  We continue to compress the loving, welcoming, and nurturing environment that all kids need for learning into an ever more hardened facility.  You and I didn’t learn in such an environment.
Yesterday, my son and I participated in the March for Our Lives Rally along with thousands of other Iowans.  I imagine hundreds from your current district and your new district were there with us.  Our collective demands:

  1. Laws banning the sale of assault weapons like the ones used in mass shootings in Las Vegas, Orlando, Sandy Hook and Parkland.
  2. Prohibiting the sale of high-capacity magazines
  3. Closing loopholes in background check laws that allows people who shouldn’t be allowed to purchase firearms to buy guns online or at gun shows.
Yet, the Iowa House continues to advance legislation that in essence puts the right to acquire weapons of mass murder in the Iowa Constitution.  We who walk the halls of our schools every day are anxious for real solutions for our gun violence epidemic, not the platitudes and condescending blaming of the victims which the ‘gun rights’ lobby keeps coming back with.  How much NRA funding have you taken in your political career?  I hope that going forward you do understand that accepting these contributions will be a red-letter against any politician of any party.  
 
Awaiting Change,
 
Christian Baughman
re: March 23 Capitol Update:

Keeping Schools Safe

The safety of our schools has become an issue of increasing concern to Iowans. Recent tragedies in other states have highlighted the need to ensure that precautions are in place to protect our students, teachers, and staff members. This legislative session, we have taken multiple steps to help school districts become better prepared to protect our kids.

This week, the House passed Senate File 2364 which requires every Iowa school district to coordinate with local law enforcement to develop an active shooter plan. This legislation also requires teachers to go through active shooter training once a year so they are better prepared in case of an emergency. This is an effort to meet an important need in our schools.

While many schools districts already have a strategy in place, some of their plans are inadequate, while others have no plan at all. An informal survey of districts done in 2015 found that of 249 respondent school districts, roughly 85% of them had an Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) in place.  But the findings from the emergency management association doing the survey found that only 24 of those districts, or 9.6%, had plans that met the FEMA guidelines for what constitutes a “high quality” EOP.  A follow-up survey determined that the number rose slightly, to 11.2%, but this is still not sufficient.

The plans that local districts are to develop would take into consideration recommendations from the Department of Education for what makes a plan high quality.  These elements come from the federal guidelines and consist primarily of five concepts:  Prevention, Protection, Mitigation, Response, and Recovery.  School districts would also have to consult and work with their local emergency management organizations and local law enforcement agencies in the development of their plans.  Their plans would need to be reviewed annually and each district would need to conduct annual training and drills.

The bill passed the House with bipartisan support and will return to the Senate with a small amendment for final consideration before moving to the Governor for signing into law. Once signed, it will help protect Iowa students and school staff by ensuring that if the terrible situation of an active shooter arises, our schools will be prepared.

The House also recently passed House File 2441. This bill allows schools to have greater flexibility and control over their resources by allowing them to direct more funding to hire school security personnel. Along with this, is consideration of extending the school infrastructure fund (SAVE) which allows schools to make needed improvements to ensure they have modern facilities and state of the art technology. An added benefit to passing the SAVE extension is that schools could use these funds to make security upgrades to their facilities in order to improve safety.

House Republicans are committed to ensuring safe schools for both students and school employees. We will continue to look for common sense opportunities to build on these efforts.

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