Senate Bill 541 was signed into law, requiring the California Board of Education to conduct studies to find the best way to conduct school drills across California, as well as find the right number of drills a year. Besides fire drills, which currently has a statewide standard of two a year, no other standard exists. While the bill is aimed to have a minimum amount of shooter and lockdown drills a year, it can also set a standard of drills for events such as earthquakes.
SB 541 was co-written by Senators Anthony Portantino (D-La Canada Flintridge) and Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel). Both Senators had previously questioned the current state law, and saw the need for a minimum number of drills to combat the rise of school shootings in the United States. Despite being from different parties, both lawmakers have seen eye to eye on greater student safety and the need for more drills in schools across California.
“School shootings have become an all-too-frequent occurrence in California,” stated Senator Portantino. “It is unacceptable that simply going to school can feel dangerous for many students. As a father, I cannot sit idly by while our children witness regular violence at school. I believe that this bill has the potential to save lives.”
Senator Bates also responded with a statement.
“Given the unfortunate threats to California’s schools today, we must ensure that students and staff are prepared for other dangers besides fires,” said Senator Bates in a statement. “In an active threat situation, seconds matter, and requiring lockdown drills can help save many lives. I thank my Senate colleagues for approving my bipartisan bill with Senator Portantino that will strengthen the safety of schools throughout California.”
The bill enjoyed bipartisan support in both houses, and was backed by teachers, law enforcement, and parent groups alike all across the state. There was little opposition to the bill, as the bills language allows for many types of drills to be considered.
The bill will give the state until November 1, 2021 to find what the drill need is for schools statewide. It is widely suspected that shooter drills will become mandatory in California, joining the growing number of U.S. states with the same regulations.