In effort to bolster school security, lawmakers consider door locks, training

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - There's a push by Hawaii lawmakers already underway to make campuses safer and more prepared in the event of an emergency.

But that effort took on new urgency Wednesday, in the wake of a shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 dead.

The proposal moving forward in the Senate — Senate Bill 2576 — would require the Department of Education to ensure all classroom doors have interior locks by the beginning of 2019, as well as campus intercom systems by 2020.

The proposal also requires DOE to create an emergency management plan that would include mandatory training for all teachers and staff and practice drills at every campus.

"Safety is one of the most important things we can provide our children. In light of the recent false alarm situation too, nobody knew what to do, so we want to create a process at every particular level and in the schools especially," said Sen. Brickwood Galuteria, who co-introduced the bill.

Teachers who support the bill say these changes will give them better peace of mind.

Lourdes Camacho says her classroom at Campbell High School has two doors that can only be locked from the outside.

"If an emergency arises where there's somebody outside in our halls trying to get in, I have to rush outside the doors, lock it from the outside, go rush to my second door, and lock it again. Then try to make it back safely. If I go out into the hallway, I'm in danger and my students are in danger," Camacho said.

While DOE supports the intent, the schools superintendent says the bill is not needed at this time since the department is already assessing what schools may need to improve safety on campus.

She says principals are already required to have emergency action plans and conduct drills.

Hawaii has never had a school shooting and everyone wants to keep it that way.

"On our island, we're a little bit safer. We're not experiencing as much as the mainland, but still we don't want to chance it. We don't want to say it finally happened and now we want to do things better," said Camacho.

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