BATON ROUGE, La. — In response to an increasing nationwide trend of shootings and other acts of violence in school settings, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) this week approved resolutions to strengthen security in K-12 public schools.
The board officially requested that public school systems work with local law enforcement to provide a school resource officer for all schools in their jurisdiction. The Board also requested that the Louisiana Legislature provide school systems with adequate funding to ensure implementation.
“There should be no higher priority than ensuring the safety of our children,” said BESE President Dr. Holly Boffy. “We urge our partners in local systems and state legislatures to take this step to protect our schools. In addition to strengthening an on-site security presence, resource officers can play a key role in developing best practices and procedures for schools to prevent threats to student and staff security.”
The resolutions were proposed by BESE District 4 member Michael Melerine at a special legislative meeting on April 5 and were unanimously approved by the board. The decisions can be viewed here.
“Our first responsibility as leaders of education should be to provide a safe environment where students are free from the threat of violence,” Melerine said. “Increasing the security of public school facilities through the use of trained resource officers in each school is an important part of resolving school safety concerns and a necessary step in protecting our children and educators.”
In the summer of 2022, the Louisiana Department of Education hosted the first Louisiana School Safety Summit, which brought together system leaders, law enforcement and other agencies to share and discuss best practices related to school safety and emergency preparedness. A follow-up survey of Louisiana schools following the summit found that approximately 67 percent (out of 73 percent of responding schools) currently have a school resource chair.
Louisiana Revised Statute 17:416.9 provides that any city, municipality, local public school system, or non-public school may enter into arrangements with local law enforcement agencies to provide school resource officers. BESE’s resolution would require officers to be certified through a nationally accredited school resource officer program or a state training program certified by the Council on Peace Officer Standards and Training. The board also required school systems to report the total number of school resource officers to the Louisiana Department of Education annually.