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Governor signs new school and campus safety laws

MIDLOTHIAN, Va. (WTVR) – During an event at Robious Elementary Wednesday, Governor Bob McDonnell ceremonially signed 12 new laws designed to improve safety at schools and college campuses across Virginia.

One of the new laws requires schools to conduct a lockdown drill at least once each semester.

“Our top priority is to make sure you can learn well from great teachers, in great schools, in a safe learning environment,” said McDonnell, addressing Robious students.

The governor says the laws are a direct result of the partnership between the General Assembly and his task force that was formed n the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings in Newtown, Connecticut last year.

Federal agents say 20 students and 6 staff members were shot to death inside the school in December.

Full list of laws passed, from Governor’s Office:

  • HB1871 (McClellan) –  Defines “bullying” in the Code of Virginia and requires each school board to include in its code of student conduct policies and procedures that prohibit bullying.
  • HB1864 (Robinson) – Clarifies a school may deal with school-based offenses through graduated sanctions or educational programming, unless a delinquency charge is filed after a school principal reports certain acts to the local law-enforcement agency.
  • HB2343 (Sherwood) – Creates a special fund to provide grants to localities, subject to local match, for facility upgrades in order to improve security.
  • HB2344 (Cole) –  Requires each school superintendent to establish a violence prevention committee and threat assessment team similar to those required for Virginia’s public institutions of higher education. The legislation also provides that school systems must annually collect and report quantitative data to the Department of Criminal Justice Services.
  • HB2345 (Yost) – Directs the Departments of Criminal Justice Services, Education, Behavioral Health and Development Services, and State Police to develop a model Critical Incident Response training program for school personnel and those providing services to schools.
  • HB2346 (Ransome) – Requires each school division to designate an emergency manager to coordinate school preparedness within the division.  It also mandates that schools conduct a lockdown drill once each semester.
  • HB2347 (Ramadan) –   Facilitates the sharing of juvenile law enforcement records by the principal of the school to threat assessment teams.
  • SB1376 (Martin) – Expands current Virginia law by extending civil immunity to any person who reports in good faith, information that an individual poses credible danger of serious bodily injury or death to one or more students, school, personnel or others on school property.
  • SB0899 (Reeves) – Bumper stickers on school buses. Authorizes local school divisions to place decals on the rear of school buses noting that the buses stop at railroad crossings.
  • HB1609 (Hugo) and SB1342(Petersen) – Provides that the governing board of each public four-year institution of higher education shall establish written memoranda of understanding with its local community services board or behavioral health authority and with local hospitals and other local mental health facilities in order to expand the scope of services available to students seeking treatment.
  • SB1378 (Garrett) – Provides that a person who engages in the “strawman” purchase of a firearm, where he purchases a firearm with the intent to resell or transport with the intent to resell outside of the Commonwealth to any person he knows is prohibited from purchasing a firearm, is guilty of a Class 4 felony and shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of one year.
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