Proposal To Mandate School Emergency Plans Awaits Governor's Signature

Apr 2, 2018

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is expected to sign a bill that would require the state’s schools to plan for emergencies.  If SF 2364 goes into effect, administrators may need to make changes soon.

Credit Thomas Favre-Bulle

According to the latest state survey, only 9 percent of schools had high quality plans for how to respond to natural disasters or active shooters. Twelve percent didn’t have a plan at all.

David Wilkerson with the School Administrators of Iowa figures some can't comprehend a tragedy happening in their community.

“Every place it has happened, you hear them say, ‘we just couldn’t imagine something like this happening here.’ So we can’t use that as an excuse, because you don’t know. You don’t know what’s in people’s hearts and what’s in people’s heads,” Wilkerson said.

Wilkerson says administrators have to plan for the unthinkable.

“So you need to make sure you’re being prepared and you’re taking the precautions necessary and the planning necessary to meet those events in case…and to address those events in case they do happen in those places that we never think they would happen,” Wilkerson said.

If lawmakers get their way, schools would have to develop what they call high quality plans by the end of the 2019 school year. Both chambers approved the plan unanimously.

Under the proposed bill, schools would have to coordinate with state officials and local law enforcement, and educate students, staff, parents and guardians. But the plans themselves would be confidential and not classified as public records. Supporters say this is meant to keep these policies out of the hands of bad actors. But state officials have a difficult time tracking the plans too. Currently, schools are not required to report them to the state department of education.