Priority Issue: School Safety

School Safety and Security Issues in the 2019 Session

During the 2019 legislative session, several bills became law which impact school safety and security in the areas of cyber bullying, hiring procedures, student discipline, and juvenile justice. In addition, the State maintained its commitment to funding the initiatives enacted in the landmark Safe to Learn Act of 2018.

Student Discipline

HB 725 (Ch. 691) – Public Schools – Student Discipline – Restorative Approaches – This bill requires local school board regulations related to discipline to provide for restorative approaches and state that the primary purpose of any disciplinary measure is rehabilitative, restorative, and educational. The bill defines “restorative approaches” as a relationship-focused student discipline model that (1) is primarily proactive and preventative; (2) emphasizes building strong relationships and setting clear behavioral expectations that contribute to the school community well-being; (3) in response to behavior that violates clear behavioral expectations, focuses on accountability for any harm done by the problem behavior; and (4) addresses ways to repair the relationships affected by the problem behavior with the voluntary participation of an individual who was harmed. The bill takes effect July 1, 2019.

MABE opposed this bill as introduced because it would have limited school administrator and school system decision-making authority regarding the suspension and expulsion of students based on restrictive conditions regarding the provision of restorative approaches. (MABE Position: Oppose) As amended, MABE believes the bill is consistent with the broader policy goal that student discipline policies reflect a philosophy that fosters positive behavior, and is aligned with longstanding state regulations. At the same time, MABE fully anticipates the need for additional funding to implement restorative approaches with fidelity. Therefore, MABE also supported passage of House Bill 1229 to establish a grant program to provide funds to local school systems for training on, and implementation and evaluation of, restorative approaches. HB 1229 did not pass; HB 725 states that MSDE must “on request, provide technical assistance and training to county board regarding the use of restorative approaches.”

SB 103/HB 181 (Chs. 26/27) – Criminal Law – Electronic Harassment and Bullying (Grace’s Law 2.0)  This bill expands the existing “cyber bullying” statute by prohibiting a person from maliciously engaging in electronic communication with intent to intimidate or harass, and cause physical injury or serious emotional distress. The bill defines “electronic communication”, “electronic conduct”, and “social media application”. The bill expands the law, commonly known as Grace’s Law, to prohibit cyber bullying with the intent to induce a minor to commit suicide, which is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 years and/or a $10,000 maximum fine. (MABE Position: No Position)

Student Data

HB 245 (Ch. 398) – Education – Student Data Privacy Council – This bill establishes the Student Data Privacy Council. The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) must staff the council. By December 31, 2020, the council must report its findings and recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly, including whether the council should be made permanent. The bill takes effect June 1, 2019, and terminates May 31, 2021. (MABE Position: Support)

HB 704 (Ch. 688) – Maryland Longitudinal Data System – Student Data and Governing Board – This bill adds juvenile delinquency records and discipline records to the types of data that are collected and analyzed by the Maryland Longitudinal Data System (MLDS) Center; under current law these records are specifically excluded. To that end, the bill adds the Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) to the entities required to provide data sets to the MLDS and adds the Secretary of Juvenile Services to the Governing Board of the MLDS Center. The bill also makes changes to the definition of “student data” and the types of data that entities are required to transfer to the MLDS Center. The bill takes effect October 1, 2019. (MABE Position: No Position)

HB 1206 (Ch. 729) – Maryland Longitudinal Data System Center – Data Matching – This bill establishes a framework for two data transfer protocols related to the Maryland Longitudinal Data System (MLDS) Center research: (1) the geocoding of public school students’ home addresses to the census tract and block level by each local school system; and (2) the matching of specified student information to tax information by the Comptroller. The Comptroller must comply with specified data privacy and security standards, including the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). For each of FY 2021 and 2022, the Governor must appropriate $100,000 to the center to develop the geocoding protocol. The bill takes effect July 1, 2019. (MABE Position: Oppose)

Juvenile Services

SB 856/HB 606 (Chs. 252/253) – Juvenile Justice Reform Council – This bill establishes the Juvenile Justice Reform Council in the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP). The council must use a data-driven approach to develop a statewide framework of policies to invest in strategies to increase public safety and reduce recidivism of youth offenders. By December 1, 2020, the council must report its findings and recommendations to the Governor and the General Assembly. The bill takes effect June 1, 2019, and terminates June 30, 2021. (MABE Position: Support with Amendment)

School Personnel

HB 486 (Ch. 55) – Education – Personnel Matters – Child Sexual Abuse and Sexual Misconduct Prevention – This bill sets forth a process, including requirements for specific documentation regarding whether an individual has ever been disciplined for allegations of “child sexual abuse” or “sexual misconduct,” for the hiring of public school and nonpublic school employees who have direct contact with minors. The bill takes effect July 1, 2019. (MABE Position: Support)

MABE supported this bill in order to establish and define the process of determining whether an applicant for employment with a local school system has ever been disciplined for allegations of “child sexual abuse” or “sexual misconduct.” In 2018, MABE supported passage of HB 1072 (Ch. 31) which now requires each local board of education and nonpublic school that receives State funds to require each employee to receive instruction annually on the prevention, identification, and reporting of child sexual abuse.

SB 568 (Ch. 53) – Crimes – Child Abuse and Neglect – Failure to Report – This bill makes it a misdemeanor for a person who is required to provide notice of suspected abuse or neglect of a child or make a written report of suspected abuse or neglect of a child under § 5–704 of the Family Law Article may not knowingly fail to provide the required notice or make the required written report if the person has actual knowledge of the abuse or neglect. Upon conviction, a violator is guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or imprisonment not exceeding 3 years, or both. The bill applies to a failure to report child abuse or neglect that occurs during the time the child is a minor. This bill takes effect October 1, 2019. (MABE Position: Support)

The Maryland Safe to Learn Act of 2018

In the final week of the 2018 legislative session, a more than 40-page piece of legislation was drafted, amended, and ultimately enacted as the Maryland Safe to Learn Act of 2018 (Senate Bill 1265, Chapter 30). This new law restructures the governance system for overseeing school safety policies and grants, calls for staffing guidelines regarding adequate law enforcement coverage at all schools and calls for an expanded role of local school systems in coordinating students’ mental health services.

Safety and security in public schools are extremely important to MABE and local boards of education for the protection of students and staff. Safety and security are also necessary to provide environments that are conducive to teaching and learning. Therefore, MABE fully supported the primary objective of this legislation to ensure that school systems and schools throughout the State are adopting and implementing high-quality safety and security standards and programs.

Read MABE’s updated Summary of the Safe to Learn Act and PowerPoint presentation and (PDF)

Read MABE President Charles McDaniels’s Statement to the Federal Commission on School Safety outlining MABE’s position on the optimal federal role in enhancing school safety and security.  (August 14, 2018)

State Police and Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention Report on School Safety

On August 15, 2018, the Maryland Department of State Police and Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention provided a Report in response to the request included in the Joint Chairmen’s Report issued by the respective chairs of the House Appropriations and Senate Budget and Taxation committees following each legislative session.

FY 2019 School Facilities Safety Improvement Grants

The Interagency Commission on School Construction (IAC) recently approved the issuance of $10 million in school safety facilities improvement grants.  Applications may be submitted as of September 12, 2018.

For more information: Grant Approval Action and Allocations and Grant Application Procedures

The IAC has approved “To direct staff to release an application to solicit school safety projects from LEAs and Maryland School for the Blind with a maximum total allocation of $10 million. Each LEA’s distribution will be proportional to the share of the total $10 million, as identified in Table 1 based upon the September 30, 2017 Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) full-time equivalent enrollments as defined by Education Article, §5-202 of the Annotated Code of Maryland for
each LEA, rounded to the nearest $1,000. ”

Of the total FY 19 School Safety Grant Program funding of $20 million, the Interagency Commission on School Construction (IAC) is distributing $10 million in Round 1.

All approved projects will have a local match requirement, based on the State-local cost share percentage applicable to projects approved in the FY 2019 Capital Improvement Program.

FY 2019 Safe Schools Fund Grants Program 

In late summer, the Maryland Center for School Safety (MCSS) had announced Round 1 of Grant Funding available from the Safe Schools Fund, as authorized under the Maryland Safe to Learn Act of 2018. This action was rescinded and the following information is current.

Safe Schools Grant Fund – The FY 2019 Safe Schools Fund has $10.6 million allocated by the Maryland Safe to Learn Act of 2018 in grant funding to enhance safety and security at public schools. The Fund is administered by the School Safety Subcabinet, and each local school system is eligible to receive a base grant amount of $200,000 as well as a subsequent per pupil amount. Below are the necessary available documents.

FY2019 Safe Schools Fund Grant Categories and Guidelines

FY 2019 Safe Schools Fund Grants Program Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) Application Requirements

Maryland Receives Federal Grant 

In early October, 2018 the Maryland State Department of Education was awarded $3.6 million in federal grants designed to further strengthen classroom safety.

This five-year, $2.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education will allow Maryland to implement the Maryland School Emergency Preparedness Program, a partnership between MSDE, local school systems, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and local emergency managers. In addition, a three-year, $1 million grant from the US Department of Justice, will allow MSDE to implement a new violence prevention model in schools across the State. Press Release

School Resource Officer (SRO) Curriculum

School Resource Officer 5-Day Curriculum  (August 2018)

This SRO curriculum has been adopted by the Subcabinet and approved by the Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission.  The 5-day curriculum is organized as follows:

Day 1: Overview & History of SRO Programs in Schools
Day 2: Informal Counselor
Day 3: Law-Related Teacher/Mentor
Day 4: Enforcement & Investigations in Schools
Day 5: Emergency Planning & Preparedness

Assessment Teams – State Model Policy 

Maryland’s Model Policy for Behavior Threat Assessment (September 2018)

This document will provide school systems and local schools with a model policy for the establishment of behavioral threat assessment teams, including procedures for the assessment of, and intervention with, students, staff, parents, contractors, and non-affiliated individuals on school property whose behavior poses a threat to the safety of school staff or students.

Maryland Center for School Safety

Maryland Center for School Safety (MCSS) website  & Facebook

Presentation on the Maryland Center for School Safety  – Overview reflects the Center’s mission prior to passage of the Safe to Learn Act  (Oct. 2017)

Presentation to the State Board on the establishment of the Maryland Center for School Safety (Feb. 25, 2014)

Emergency Planning Resources

MSDE website on Emergency Planning For School Systems and Schools

Emergency Planning Guidelines for Local School Systems and Schools – Updated October 2017

For more information, contact John R. Woolums, Esq., MABE’s Director of Governmental Relations, at or 410-841-5414.