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Key Pennsylvania Safe Schools Legislation
- The Safe Schools Act of 1995 (Act 26) was amended in 1997 (Act 30) to mandate annual reporting of all incidents of violence, weapons, alcohol, drugs and tobacco possession to the Department of Education. Local education agencies also are required to develop a Memorandum of Understanding with local law enforcement agencies and provide for other procedural safeguards to enhance school safety. Another amendment to Act 26 (Act 36 of 1999) empowers schools to acquire the tools and resources needed to develop and enhance safe learning environments.
- The Emergency Management Services Code requires “every school district, in cooperation with the local emergency Management Agency shall develop and implement emergency preparedness plans,” as well as “disaster response plans.” This Code requires schools to conduct at least one tornado or other disaster drill each year. The Pennsylvania School Code also requires schools to conduct fire drills not less than once per month and to conduct two school bus emergency evacuation drills per year.
- House Bill 1067 of 2008 amended the Pennsylvania School Code to require districts to adopt or amend anti-bullying policies, which “delineate disciplinary consequences for bullying and may provide for prevention, intervention and education programs.”
- The State Board of Education Regulations, 22 Pa Code, Parts I-XX, et seq., as amended, require schools to adopt a code of student conduct that includes policies governing student discipline. Schools are required to delineate the types of offenses for which students can be suspended or expelled. This legislation requires schools to adopt reasonable policies and procedures regarding student searches. Student Assistance Programs are also required by this legislation.
- The Child Protective Services Law, 23 Pa. C.S.A. §§ 6301-6385, et seq., as amended, requires school administrators, teachers and nurses to report suspect child abuse.
- Department of Health Statutes and Regulations, including the Administrative Code of 1929, 71 P.S. § 532(b), the Disease Prevention and Control Law, 35 P.S. §521.1, et seq., and Communicable and Non-communicable Diseases regulations, 28 Pa. Code, Ch. 27, §27.152, set forth requirements related to the health of students, particularly around the control of communicable and non-communicable disease.
- Act 104 of 2010 amended sections of the Safe Schools Act of 1995, clarifying the requirements around reporting school violence incidents and mandating the biennial update and re-execution of Memorandums of Understanding with local law enforcement. This Act also mandates the creation of a statewide school safety advisory committee and establishes requirements for dating violence prevention policies and programs.