Sen. Jake Ashby (R,C-Castleton) and Assemblyman Scott Bendett (R,C-Sand Lake) are partnering on legislation (S.7237) directing DCJS to create a certification program for a new, official position at schools across the state: School Safety Specialist.
School Safety Specialists would be responsible for implementing and enforcing comprehensive school safety policies, developing emergency response plans, coordinating with local law enforcement, mental health providers and court systems, creating effective emergency drills and mentoring vulnerable students.
“We live in a world where it’s more challenging than ever to protect our kids at school. It takes compassion and courage. It takes digital literacy and professional competency. It requires clear communication, and it means collaboration with parents, teachers, and outside officials from the healthcare, mental health, and criminal justice worlds. What we need is a professional. We want the state of New York to step up and provide guidance and real standards so that we can hire experts who are focused on one thing- keeping our students safe no matter what,” said Ashby.
“New York State has existing, exacting certification requirements for School District Business Leaders. How is it possible that we don’t have the same for school safety? Most districts have an array of professional staff and administrators. Our schools should have a professional devoted to protecting our kids,” said Bendett.
The lawmakers noted the legislation’s flexibility. District leaders could hire one specialist to consult at multiple school buildings, or hire specialists for each school, or choose not to hire a certified specialist.
“We want to be crystal clear- this is not a mandate, and it’s certainly not an unfunded mandate,” said Bendett. “It’s an opportunity to set a nation-leading standard for school safety, and we believe that parents, administrators and teachers are going to see the value in that.”
If passed, Ashby and Bendett would advocate for additional funding in the state budget to help schools offset the cost of hiring School Safety Specialists.
“The last thing we’d ever want as elected officials is to wonder if we did everything we possibly could to prevent a tragedy and protect our kids in school. This bill is about a comprehensive, proactive approach,” said Ashby.