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New law tightens public school safety drill requirements

Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law today legislation that will require Michigan public schools to tighten fire, tornado and lockdown safety drills.

State Rep. Joseph Graves, R-Argentine Township, sponsored the legislation in response to media reports of widespread disregard by schools of safety drill requirements.

The new law requires schools to file by Sept. 15  a schedule of drills for the whole year with their county emergency manager. Schools must also post on their websites notice of a completed safety drill within five days.

Graves said the new reporting requirements hold schools accountable.  "The emergency manager will now come back and say, 'Local district, you failed to provide me your plan. I need that.' Or, "It says on here that Jan. 15 you were supposed to have a drill. At the end of January, you didn't post it. Did you have your drill?'," said Graves.

Graves said the new notice provisions  give emergency personnel the chance to participate in the drill, although they do not require it. 

Graves said he participated in a practice lockdown drill. "The state police was there. The sheriff was there. The local police were there. And it also helped the teachers understand what their role is in an active shooter drill," he said.

The new law makes adjustments to the timing and type of drills. The total number  remains at 10, with one fewer fire drill and one more lockdown drill.

The new law also requires schools to adopt and implement a cardiac emergency response plan.

Virginia Gordan, Michigan Radio Newsroom