ST. PAUL – State Representative Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, and State Senator John Marty, DFL-Roseville, today announced a plan to improve emergency preparation for Minnesota schools.
Their plan would require schools to hold at least five emergency lockdown drills each school year. Current law requires only one lockdown drill and students are not required to be involved.
“Knowing how to safely react can prevent a dangerous situation from turning into a deadly one,” Urdahl said. “One drill per year is not enough to make sure students and staff know what to do in an emergency.” Urdahl added that he encourages schools to hold their lockdown drills at various times of the day so that students know what to do in different classrooms or different parts of the school.
The most recent Dangerous Weapons and Disciplinary Incidents report from the Minnesota Department of Education cites 1,239 events involving weapons in the 2003-04 school year, 41 of which involved hand guns or long guns. The report cited another 80 bomb threats reported during the same time period. A recent incident at the Sheridan Global Arts and Communications school in Minneapolis, where a gun in a student’s backpack accidentally went off during lunchtime, shows how potentially dangerous situations can happen at any time. Other schools in various parts of the state have been closed due to threats in recent weeks, something Urdahl said only emphasizes the need for everyone to be prepared.
“Tragically, as we have seen, we don’t always get a tip before tragedy strikes,” Urdahl said.
The Urdahl-Marty bill would also create an advisory task force to study and recommend to the Legislature proposals for improving K-12 crisis management preparations. The proposed task force would determine who should be trained, who should do the training and how training should take place.
“We want to bring people together from the worlds of education, public safety and emergency responders to look at how to prepare teachers and administrators for a situation we hope they never face,” Urdahl said. If the bill passes, Urdahl said the task force would report its findings to the legislature in 2007.