On December 5th, Governor Chris Christie signed two school safety bills. According to the State’s Website, one bill requires that future school architectural plans feature certain security measures. The second mandates that schools conduct annual security training alongside first-responders.
The new Security Measures In School Architecture requires that “where new school construction is undertaken by a school district or the New Jersey Schools Development Authority, in addition to the Best Practices Standards for Schools Under Construction or Being Planned for Construction set forth by the Department of Community Affairs, the district or authority, as applicable, must provide for certain school security construction standards in the architectural design for the new construction. These school construction standards include among others, standards in regard to the selection of a building site with adequate space to accommodate bus and vehicular traffic separately, separate vehicular drop-off/pick-up areas, marked school entrances with a uniform numbering system, keyless locking mechanisms, access control systems which allow for remote locking and unlocking, sufficient space for evacuation in the event of an emergency, and areas in the school building intended for public use separated and secure from all other areas.”
The new law also provides that “in the case of new school construction undertaken by a school district or the development authority, and in the case of existing school buildings, the district or the authority, as applicable, in addition to employing Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design principles, must employ certain school security standards. These standards include among others, that school security personnel be in uniform, the number of doors for access by school staff be limited, exterior doors remain locked, secure vestibules at the school’s main entrance be created, surveillance cameras be used as a target-hardening tool, and a strict key distribution protocol be developed.”
Training with First Responders revises the current law on school security drills to include all employees within a school district in training, not just certificated employees.
Both laws are to take effect at the beginning of the next school year. Additional information can be obtained by following the links to the NJ Legislature’s Website above.