South Carolina State Rep. Wallace Scarborough wants schools to alert parents within 30 minutes after police are called about threats or violence toward students.
The Charleston Republican’s bill was prompted by an incident last October when his 12-year-old son was upset about going to school.
Through sobs, the seventh-grader explained that someone had threatened to pull the school’s fire alarm and gun down students as they ran outside. When Scarborough drove up to James Island Middle School, he saw several police cars.
Nothing had happened, but Principal Mike Casey had notified Charleston police about the rumor as part of the school’s procedure.
“It was unsettling,” Scarborough said. “I was shocked. I just wish I had known about it.”
That’s why Scarborough’s bill would require schools to notify parents through the media when police are called about bomb threats, random shootings, or any violence directed toward a student.
“The parents of South Carolina’s schoolchildren deserve to know what is happening in their children’s school,” Scarborough said.
The state Education Department welcomes ideas to ensure school safety, but implementing Scarborough’s proposal “is pretty daunting,” said spokesman Jim Foster.
“This bill would require principals to notify media immediately, before the facts are determined,” Foster said. “Principals have to be able to exercise some discretion in investigating rumors. They need to be confident that what they are reporting to parents is factual.”