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Plan to install panic buttons in schools clears Assembly panel

April 04, 2013|By Patrick McGreevy
  • California lawmakers are considering a bill to install panic buttons in classrooms. Above, Broadway Elementary School in Venice.
California lawmakers are considering a bill to install panic buttons in… (Robyn Beck / AFP/Getty Images )

California lawmakers have moved forward with one of several bills introduced after the massacre of young students in Newtown, Conn. The measure would put panic buttons in the state’s schools.

Under the legislation, proposed by Assemblymember Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto), if federal funding becomes available to cover the cost, school districts would install panic buttons in each classroom, cafeteria, theater, gym and other regularly used space in a school serving grades K-12.

Pressing the button would alert local law enforcement to respond to an emergency that could include an armed intruder on campus.

Olsen proposed the measure, AB 1076, after a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in December.

"This is low-hanging fruit in providing solutions that improve school safety for students, teachers, staff and administrators," Olsen said in a statement after the Senate Education Committee approved the bill, sending it to a panel on finances.

The measure is opposed by the CSAC Excess Insurance Authority, a risk sharing pool of California public agencies. "Clearly we support safety measures for children, but this bill seems to increase potential liability for schools if enacted with little guarantee of increased safety,’’ said Jack Blyskal, chief claims officer for the group.

The Education Committee has yet to take up more controversial bills introduced after Newtown, including a measure by Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-San Bernardino) that would allow school districts to spend education funds to train teachers and administrators how to use guns in case their campus is attacked.

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patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

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