NEW JERSEY– In an effort to further protect students with disabilities, the Senate Education Committee last week advanced legislation sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner and Senator Linda R. Greenstein to require schools to ensure that all students fully participate in all school security drills and that districts account for the needs of students with disabilities.
“School safety drills are important for preparing students and staff to follow a certain protocol under what would ultimately be a stressful situation in an actual emergency,” said Senator Shirley K. Turner (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “Including students with disabilities in those drills will empower staff to take the steps necessary to protect the lives of everyone in the school community should an emergency ever arise. No child should be an afterthought, and parents of students with disabilities deserve the peace of mind that when faced with a school crisis situation, their children will be brought to safety and will never be left behind.”
Under the bill, S-2057, school districts would be required to ensure that a student’s individualized education program, individualized health care plan, 504 plan, or service plan documents the student’s unique needs in the event of a school security drill or an actual emergency situation. The program or plan would indicate whether the student is able to safely and fully participate in school security drills without the use of supplementary accommodations.
“Through this legislation, we can ensure that every school is equipped to properly accommodate students with disabilities in emergency plans, ” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Putting supports in place for each students’ individual needs is vital to the safety and security of the entire student body.”
If a student requires supplementary accommodations in order to safely and fully participate in a school security drill, the bill requires a written plan to be included in the student’s individualized education program, individualized health care plan, 504 plan, or service plan. The written plan would describe the anticipated support needs and accommodations of the student during an actual emergency situation and describe the role of school employees in supporting the student, including the need for any specific training of school employees.
The bill was released from committee by a vote of 4-0.