Today, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) joined Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) and several of his colleagues to introduce the Safe Schools Act, legislation that would allow unused COVID relief dollars allocated to schools through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund to be used by schools to improve safety and security. This could include efforts to install physical security measures such as locks, panic buttons, individual room security systems and video surveillance or hiring and paying the salaries of armed school resource officers.
“Schools ought to be able to utilize existing funds for bolstering security efforts. As broader discussions continue, the Safe Schools Act is a step we can immediately take to improve school security and help keep our students safe,” Grassley said.
“While we made some progress in previous legislation to make our schools stronger, harder, and safer, certainly there is more that can and must be done immediately to protect kids,” said Marshall. “What happened in Uvalde was a horrific tragedy. While many have been quick to play politics, one thing we can all agree on is that Congress must act to harden schools. For these reasons, I am introducing this legislation that allows the abundance of unused COVID relief dollars to be allocated to secure schools in Kansas and throughout the nation.”
Earlier this spring, Senator Grassley pressed the Department of Education for their failure to get emergency COVID dollars to schools. With the emergency COVID response long over in our nation’s schools, the Safe Schools Act would allow these funds to be spent on a well-warranted cause. According to a 2021 Secret Service report, 67 plots against K-12 schools were disrupted from 2006-2018. Sixty-six percent of the schools had no system for alerting officials regarding concerning or threatening behavior. The Safe Schools Act would allow schools to utilize funds that have already been allocated to bolster security efforts and keep students safe.
The legislation is also cosponsored by Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.). Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Calif.) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Full text of the bill is available HERE.
Grassley is also spearheading the EAGLES Act, a bipartisan and bicameral proposal that seeks to expand the Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC) which focuses on violent crime prevention and assesses indicators for targeted violence. It would expand NTAC’s portfolio for school violence prevention, research and early intervention.
Previously, Grassley helped pass the Students, Teachers and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act. It boosted federal grants to local schools for evidence-based programs to prevent school violence and to fortify buildings and classrooms. Grassley also supported the Fix NICS Act to hold federal agencies accountable if they fail to comply with legal requirements to report dangerous individuals to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Last year, Grassley reintroduced the Protecting Communities and Preserving the Second Amendment Act to increase resources for school safety, ensure federal agencies accurately submit records to NICS and ensure criminals who illegally buy a firearm are prosecuted.