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Assembly Clears Lampitt, Houghtaling & Zwicker Bill to Create Checklist for Annual School Safety Audit

Legislation to Better Protect Children, Teachers and Communities by Assessing the Safety of All NJ School Buildings and Grounds

As a student, teacher and school staffer your last concern should be whether you will return home safely at the end of the day. In an effort to assert greater safety in schools across New Jersey, Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Eric Houghtaling and Andrew Zwicker have sponsored legislation that cleared 76-0 in the Assembly on Thursday.

The bill (A-4147) requires all New Jersey school districts to conduct annual safety audits of their schools using a standardized checklist to be developed by the New Jersey Department of Education and Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness. The checklist would be used to assess the security features and vulnerabilities of school buildings and grounds as well as evaluate emergency notification procedures.

Sponsors of the bill issued the following statements:

Pamela R. Lampitt (D-Camden, Burlington): “New Jersey has many strong statewide school security policies in place but to ensure that our schools are providing a safe and secure learning environment, we must constantly assess the effectiveness of our security measures on a district-by-district basis. This initiative will help to generate greater accountability for the safety and security of New Jersey school facilities and help districts comply with the security recommendations set by the state.”

Eric Houghtaling (D-Monmouth): “A secure and well-equipped building is foundational to creating safety in our schools. The top concern should always be the quality of education children are receiving. Parents, students and teachers should never have to worry about the level of safety. This legislation helps us commit to the promise that children and teachers will be safe in the classroom at all times. It serves to educate on the implementation of safety measures and will help develop the most successful security procedures.”

Andrew Zwicker (D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon): “Schools should be safe and secure environments where learning potential is uninhibited. And when effective response to crisis is hindered by unpreparedness, schools are simply unable to prioritize learning. This audit will help pinpoint safety measures in schools that are falling short. It will identify areas for improvement and will ultimately be a resource in helping standardize best practices across the state.”