Governor OKs, amends school safety bills
Gov. Bob McDonnell has approved at least six bills and proposed revisions to at least three others aimed at improving school security and creating a safe campus environment. McDonnell had until midnight Monday to act on legislation passed by the General Assembly during its 2013 regular session. Among other measures, the governor signed a half-dozen bills that had been recommended by the School and Campus Safety Task Force that he created in December. These bills will take effect July 1:
• SB 1078, sponsored by Sen. George Barker, D-Alexandria, will require the State Board for Community Colleges to craft a policy to raise awareness about mental health needs among community college student and faculty members. The law also requires each community college to have at least one individual who acts as a contact point on mental health issues.
• SB 1376, introduced by Sen. Stephen Martin, R-Chesterfield, will exempt school officials and individuals from civil liability for reporting or investigating the threat of another individual on school property as long as it is done without malice.
• HB 1582, introduced by Delegate Mark Cole, R-Fredericksburg, will allow security officers hired by schools to carry firearms on school property. The law also prevents the Board of Social Services from preventing day-care centers from hiring an armed security officer.
• HB 1871, sponsored by Delegate Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, provides a legal definition for “bullying” and requires public schools to enforce penalties related to incidences of bullying. The definition of “bullying” includes “any aggressive and unwanted behavior that is intended to harm, intimidate or humiliate the victim.”
• HB 2343, introduced by Delegate Beverly Sherwood, R-Winchester, will establish the School Security Infrastructure Improvement Fund and the Local School Safety Fund. These funds will be distributed in the form of grants and loans necessary to enhance a school building’s overall security as well as violence prevention measures.
• HB 2346, introduced by Delegate Margaret Ransone, R-Kinsale, requires public schools to undergo inspections by a school safety audit committee in accordance with a standardized checklist. The law also requires all public schools to conduct at least two lock-down drills each school year.
McDonnell also wrote recommendations for a number of other bills suggested by the School and Campus Safety Task Force. These proposed revisions will be considered by the General Assembly when it reconvenes April 3. The governor recommended modifying such bills as:
• SB 1378, introduced by Sen. Tom Garrett, R-Lynchburg. It would increase the penalty for “straw purchases” of a firearm, in which the buyer intends to resell the weapon to someone who is ineligible to have a gun. McDonnell’s recommendation makes it clear that this would not apply to adults buying guns for their children or grandchildren.
• HB 1609, introduced by Delegate Tim Hugo, R-Centreville. As passed, the bill said, “The governing board of each public four-year institution of higher education may establish a written memorandum 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.” McDonnell recommended changing “may” to “shall” – thus requiring colleges and universities to forge such agreements.
• HB 2347, proposed by Delegate David Ramadan, R-South Riding, would allow school principals to pass along to campus police officers information provided by juvenile intake officers about the criminal activity of currently enrolled students. The governor’s recommendation makes it clear that private school administrators also could share this information.
McDonnell created the School and Campus Safety Task Force in response to the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The group submitted an initial round of recommendations to McDonnell on Jan. 31. It will issue a final report by June.
Michael Arad, the architect of the World Trade Center Memorial, will be the keynote speaker for The 2016 Adolf-Adams JCC Forum on Sat., Jan. 30, 2016 at 7:30 p.m., at the Carole and Marcus Weinstein Jewish Community Center in Henrico.
Arad’s “Reflecting Absence” architectural design was selected from more than 5,000 competitive entries as the template for the Memorial’s construction in New York City. During the forum, Arad will discuss the significance and symbolism of the design, as well as his inspiration. The event, which is a highlight of the Weinstein JCC’s Patron of the Arts series, is open to the public > Read more.
Citizen Staff Reports 12/15/2015
The Sixth Annual RVA Environmental Film Festival (RVA EFF) will be held Feb. 1-7, 2016 at various locations, including in Henrico County.
A partnership of The Enrichmond Foundation, Capital Region Land Conservancy, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and Falls of the James Group - Sierra Club, the festival will feature a number of insightful films designed to raise awareness of environmental issues relative to all residents of the planet and Richmond citizens in particular.
A detailed schedule will be released at a time closer to the festival, but the popular children's portion has been set for Saturday, Feb. 6, at the Byrd Theatre in Carytown. > Read more.
Start celebrating Valentine’s Day a little early with Susan Greenbaum at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen. She will present “An Evening of Love Songs.” Other fun events this weekend include Henrico Rec & Parks’ 30th annual One Act Showcase; “The Lego Movie” playing at the Henrico Theatre (tickets are only $!); and Robin and Linda Williams who will be performing at the Shady Grove Coffeehouse. And homeowners will really appreciate the free Home Improvement Seminar taking place at Harvie ES. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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