Legislation permitting local school districts and municipalities to discuss security matters in executive session, sponsored by Senator Tommy Tomlinson (R-Bucks) was signed into law by Governor Wolf yesterday.
Tomlinson said Senate Bill 1078, now Act 156 balances common sense concerns about protecting sensitive discussions and documents involving security with the public’s “right to know.”
He said school shootings and other incidents have prompted school districts and municipalities in Pennsylvania to re-examine, update and strengthen their security plans to better protect students and citizens, including identifying potential weaknesses in their current plans. However, if made public, this information could compromise safety efforts and put students and others at risk.
“While transparency is important at all levels of government, it makes no sense to give someone who intends to commit an act of violence against our schools or our local communities access to the plans being adopted to prevent such an incident,” Tomlinson said. “Schools and other community entities should be able to work closely with local and state law enforcement to develop comprehensive safety plans without compromising safety and putting everyone at risk.”
More than half of the states currently have measures in place which allow for security and safety matters to be discussed in non-public executive session.
“This measure balances openness and transparency with our desire to safeguard our children and our neighbors,” Tomlinson said. “This sensible approach will help our school districts, local governments and first responders as they continue to enhance and improve safety plans and procedures in an effort to keep our communities safe.”