PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota Senate committee advanced a proposal that requires law enforcement to tell schools when students threaten violence and violate drug and alcohol policies. The bill, which came about after a period of research into school safety last summer, next faces a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate.
An organization that represents school administrators said that when schools know about criminal incidents involving their students, they can intervene proactively depending on the circumstance. Rob Monson, the executive director of the School Administrators of South Dakota, referenced a recent incident in which a student was arrested at school after police connected him with a string of crimes including car theft, possession of firearms and illegal drugs, and assaulting his sister.
Law enforcement groups oppose the proposal, saying the two institutions already communicate. They worry that spreading sensitive information could damage the individuals involved.
Democratic Sen. Shawn Bordeaux voted to dismiss the proposal, concerned that it would add another layer to criminalization that at-risk youth face.
Grant Flynn, who is lobbying with the South Dakota State’s Attorneys Association, said, “It’s a solution looking for a problem and creates additional onus on law enforcement.”
Bill sponsor Republican Sen. Erin Tobin had discussed the issue with superintendents across the state and found that because an existing bill only suggests law enforcement notify schools, an amendment to require communication between the two agencies was necessary.
“When it’s not consistently happening, students are placed right back in school, sometimes where the victim is present,” Tobin said. “That is a huge risk to the victim and the offender, and it’s just not a safe environment.”