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Act 26 of 1995 & Act 30 of 1997 (School Safety)
Safe Schools Act - including the most recent amendments from Act 30 of 1997
Affects the Public School Code. Applies to the public school system. Certain provisions apply to private and parochial schools.
The Center for Safe Schools is providing the full text of Act 26 of 1995 and the sections of Act 30 of 1997 which amend it. None of this information should be substituted for discussions and consultation with your district solicitor. The information is provided as a resource.
Act 26 of 1995 and Act 30 of 1997:
- prohibit possession of weapons and requires expulsion
- define weapon, school property, and school entity
- establish the Office of Safe Schools within the Department of Education and lists its powers and duties
- set forth reporting requirements for incidents of violence and weapons possession
- require a sworn statement prior to admission to any school entity
- provide for the transfer, maintenance and availability of records
- require a one-time cost survey to the legislature
The Act of March 10, 1949 (P.L. 30, No. 14), known as the Public School Code of 1949, amended July 1, 1981 (P.L. 200, No. 62), is amended to read:
Possession of Weapons Prohibited
(A) Except as otherwise provided in this section, a school district or area vocational-technical school shall expel, for a period of not less than one year, any student who is determined to have brought onto or is in possession of a weapon on any school property, any school-sponsored activity or any public conveyance providing transportation to a school or school-sponsored activity.
(B) Every school district and area vocational-technical school shall develop a written policy regarding expulsions for possession of a weapon as required under this section. Expulsions shall be conducted pursuant to all applicable regulations.
(C) The superintendent of a school district or an administrative director of an area vocational-technical school may recommend modifications of such expulsion requirements for a student on a case-by-case basis. The superintendent or other chief administrative officer of a school entity shall, in the case of an exceptional student, take all steps necessary to comply with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (Public Law 91-230, 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq.).
(D) The provisions of this section shall not apply to the following:
(1) A weapon being used as part of a program approved by an individual who is participating in the program; or
(2) A weapon that is unloaded and is possessed by an individual while traversing school property for the purpose of obtaining access to public or private lands used for lawful hunting, if the entry on school premises is authorized by school authorities.
(E) Nothing in this section shall be construed as limiting the authority or duty of a school or area vocational-technical school to make an alternative assignment or provide alternative educational services during the period of expulsion.
(1) A school district receiving a student who transfers from a public or private school during a period of expulsion for an act or offense involving a weapon may assign that student to an alternative assignment or provide alternative education services, provided that the assignment may not exceed the period of expulsion.
(F) All school districts and area vocational-technical schools shall report all incidents involving possession of a weapon prohibited by this section as follows:
(1) The school superintendent or chief administrator shall report the discovery of any weapon prohibited by this section to local law enforcement officials.
(2) The school superintendent or chef administrator shall report to the Department of Education all incidents relating to expulsions for possession of a weapon on school grounds, school-sponsored activities or public conveyance providing transportation to a school or school-sponsored activity. Reports shall include all information as required under Section 1302-A.
(H) As used in this section, the term "weapon" shall include, but not be limited to, any knife, cutting tool, nunchaku, firearm, shotgun, rifle and any other tool, instrument or implement capable of inflicting serious bodily injury.
ARTICLE XIII-A. SAFE SCHOOLS.
Definitions — as used in this article
"Office" shall mean the Office for Safe Schools.
"School Entity" shall mean any public school district, intermediate unit or area vocational-technical school.
"School Property" shall mean any public school grounds, any school-sponsored activity or any conveyance providing transportation to a school entity or school-sponsored activity.
"Weapon" shall include, but not be limited to, any knife, cutting instrument, cutting tool, nunchaku, firearm, rifle and any other tool, instrument or implement capable of inflicting serious bodily injury.
Office for Safe Schools
(A) There is hereby established in the Department of Education an Office for Safe Schools.
(B) The Office shall have the following powers and duties:
(1) To coordinate anti-violence efforts between school, professional, parental, governmental, law enforcement and community organizations and associations.
(2) To collect, develop and disseminate information, policies, strategies and other information to assist in the development of programs to impact school violence.
(3) To provide direct training to school employees, parents, law enforcement officials and communities on effective measures to combat school violence.
(4) To advise school entities and nonpublic schools on the development of policies to be used regarding possession of weapons by any person, acts of violence and protocols for coordination with and reporting to law enforcement officials and the Department of Education.
(5) To develop forms to be used by school entities for reporting incidents involving acts of violence and possession of weapons on school property.
(C) In addition to the powers and duties set forth under Subsection (A), the Office is authorized to make targeted grants to schools to fund programs which address school violence, including, but not limited to, the following programs:
(1) Conflict Resolution or Dispute Management.
(2) Peer Helpers Programs.
(3) Risk Assessment or Violence Prevention Curricula.
(4) Classroom Management.
(D) Grant applications shall contain information as the Office may require. The Office shall conduct a thorough annual evaluation of each program for which a grant under this section is made.
(A) The Office shall conduct a one-time survey of all school entities to determine the number of incidents involving acts of violence on school property and all cases involving possession of a weapon by any person on school property which occurred within the last five (5) years. The survey shall be based on the best available information provided by school entities.
(B) All school entities shall report all new incidents involving acts of violence, possession of a weapon, or possession, use, or sale of controlled substances as defined in the act of April 14, 1972 (P.L. 233, No. 64), known as "The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act," or possession, use or sale of alcohol or tobacco by any person on school property at least once a year, as provided by the Office, on a form to be developed and provided by the Office. The form shall include:
(1) Age or grade of student.
(2) Name and address of school.
(3) Circumstances surrounding the incident, including type of weapon, controlled substance, alcohol or tobacco.
(4) Sanction imposed by the school.
(5) Notification of law enforcement.
(6) Remedial programs involved.
(7) Parental involvement required.
(8) Arrests, convictions and adjudications, if known.
If a person other than a student is involved, the report shall state the relationship of the individual involved to the school entity.
(C) All school entities shall develop a Memorandum of Understanding with local law enforcement which sets forth procedures to be followed when an incident involving an act of violence or possession of a weapon by any person occurs on school property. Law enforcement protocols shall be developed in cooperation with local law enforcement and the Pennsylvania State Police.
A Sworn Statement
(A) Prior to admission to any school entity, the parent, guardian or other person having control or charge of a student shall, upon registration, provide a sworn statement or affirmation stating whether the pupil was previously or is presently suspended or expelled from any public or private school of this Commonwealth or any other State for an act or offense involving weapons, alcohol or drugs, or for the willful infliction of injury to another person or for any act of violence committed on school property. The registration shall include the name of the school from which the student was expelled or suspended for the above-listed reasons with the dates of expulsion or suspension and shall be maintained as part of the student’s disciplinary record.
(B) Any willful false statement made under this section shall be a misdemeanor of the third degree.
Transfer of Records
Whenever a pupil transfers to another school entity, a certified copy of the student’s disciplinary record shall be transmitted to the school entity to which the pupil has transferred. The school entity to which the student has transferred should request the record. The sending school entity shall have ten (10) days from receipt of the request to supply a certified copy of the student’s disciplinary record.
Availability of Records
A student’s disciplinary record as well as records maintained under Section 1307-A shall be available for inspection to the student and his parent, guardian or other person having control or charge of the student, to school officials and to state and local law enforcement officials as provided by law. Permission of the parent, guardian or other person having control or charge of the student shall not be required for transfer of the individual’s student record to another school entity within this commonwealth or in another State in which the student seeks enrollment or is enrolled.
Maintenance of Records
All school entities and private schools within this Commonwealth shall maintain updated records of all incidents of violence, incidents involving possession of a weapon and convictions or adjudications of delinquency for acts committed on school property by students enrolled therein on both a district-wide and school-by-school basis. Records maintained under this section shall be contained in a format developed by the Pennsylvania State Police in cooperation with the Office within ninety (90) days of the effective date of this section. A statistical summary of these records shall be made accessible to the public for examination by the public during regular business hours.
The Secretary of Education shall survey all school districts and nonpublic schools to determine the extent to which additional costs have been incurred in implementing administrative and reporting requirements established for public or nonpublic schools in Section 1317.2 and in Sections 1304-A through 1307-A. The Secretary of Education shall issue a report to the Chairman and the Minority Chairman of the Appropriations Committee and the Education Committee of the Senate and the Appropriations Committee and Education Committee of the House of Representatives by April 1, 1996, concerning the extent to which additional costs have been incurred by school districts and nonpublic schools.
The Department of Education shall provide guidelines and technical assistance to assist school districts and nonpublic schools in implementing the provisions of this act.