Oklahoma lawmakers plan nonpartisan commission on school security

School security became a priority Thursday for both Republicans and Democrats at the Oklahoma state Capitol, as leaders announced a nonpartisan task force of experts would examine how to make state schools the safest in the nation.
BY MEGAN ROLLAND mrolland@opubco.com Modified: December 20, 2012 at 8:58 pm •  Published: December 21, 2012

He said the commission will contain experts from fields such as law enforcement, mental health and education, as well as parents and first responders. It will not have any legislators on the board, he said.

But while the commission looks at school security and mental health, it will not address gun control, he said.

“That vacuum is being filled on the federal level right now with gun control,” Lamb said. “This is a focus on school security.”

A look at funding

Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, proposed granting school districts the ability to use bond issues to fund additional security officers in schools. Current law forbids the use of bond money to pay for personnel.

“Basically, we are giving communities the option to increase the safety of school districts, without the involvement of the state,” Dorman said in a news release.

In Oklahoma, school bond issues require at least a 60 percent majority vote for approval. The bond issues are paid for through property taxes.

“I know new taxes are not popular, but this would allow the local control of each school district to decide if this is an expense that is worthwhile,” Dorman said.

Rep. Mark McCullough, R-Sapulpa, proposed a plan to allow teachers who go through a six-week reserve officer training through CLEET (Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training) to be permitted to carry firearms on school campuses.

“The purpose of the proposal, though controversial, is fairly obvious: harden the soft targets that are our schools and protect our children from a Connecticut-style massacre,” he wrote in a statement about his proposal. He also pledged to participate in the ongoing conversation about what is necessary to protect the state's children.

Shannon, R-Lawton, said all proposals will be considered by the commission.

“We are going to have action and not reaction to the tragedy that took place in Newtown,” Shannon said. “The purpose of this commission is not to be reactionary like many lawmakers in Washington, D.C. It is to take serious, well-thought-out action that truly makes our children safe while defending our personal liberties at the same time.”