A bill requiring Mississippi school districts to have safety programs and a crisis management plan to deal with disruptive students and school ground incidents passed the state Senate in February, 48-3. The bill now goes to the House, where it has the endorsement of Education Committee Chairman Joe Warren, D-Mount Olive.

“This bill will put discipline back in the hands of principals and classroom teachers, which is where it should be,” said Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck in touting the bill.

The bill would require the state Department of Education to develop a program of assisting school districts during any incidents and help schools put safety plans in place. The department also would oversee the establishment of crisis management teams of personnel trained to handle traumatic and violent situations that may occur at schools.

Discipline in the classroom is the main issue, backers said. The bill would provide that a teacher could remove a disruptive student, with approval of the principal, and the student would not be let back into the classroom until a conference is held with school officials and parents or guardian.

Sen. Barbara Blackmon, D-Canton, said the removal of a disruptive student from a classroom was a “one strike and you’re out” policy. She said nothing in the bill makes an effort to get to the root of the child’s problem that is causing the disruption.

Senators defeated a proposal from Blackmon to require counseling for disruptive students and only after three incidents would expulsion be an option. Sen. Mike Chaney, R-Vicksburg, said Blackmon’s proposal would undermine a teacher’s authority in the classroom.

Gov. Ronnie Musgrove toured the state in February to promote his own school safety plan. He wants each school to assemble a box with blueprints, pictures of students, and other material that might be needed to help in case of an emergency. One box would be kept at the school and a duplicate would be kept at a local police or sheriff’s office.