A public hearing on proposed rules governing school safety is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 21, at the Arkansas Department of Education Arch Ford Education Building in Little Rock.
The proposed Division of Elementary and Secondary Education rules include requiring 40 hours of basic school resource officer training within 18 months of hiring and annual lockdown drills, among other things.
During last week’s special session, legislators amended a law so all exterior and interior doors can be closed and locked during school hours except for transition times, as required by a proposed DESE rule.
The rules are informed by the more than 50 recommendations included in a final report submitted last October by the Arkansas School Safety Commission to then-Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Those recommendations were included in the LEARNS Act, a wide-ranging education law passed by legislators earlier this year.
Lawmakers approved emergency rules last December to allow the disbursement of $50 million for a school-safety grant program. About $44 million had been allotted to 45 private schools and 256 public districts as of July, according to ADE.
The State Board of Education approved the release of the most recent rules for public comment at its Aug. 10 meeting. An ADE lawyer told the board then that if public comment results in substantive changes, the revised rules will go to the governor’s office and then return to the state board before another round of public comment.
If there are no changes, the proposed rules will be presented to the state board for final approval. The rules will then require approval from the Arkansas Legislative Council before being delivered to the Secretary of State’s office. They will be effective 10 days after that.
For Arkansans who cannot attend Thursday’s hearing, written comments may be emailed to [email protected] or mailed to ADE Legal Services, Four Capitol Mall, Room 302A, Little Rock, AR 72201.
The public comment period ends at 4:30 p.m. Sept. 29.
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