SPONSOR: Caskey (Smith)

COMMITTEE ACTION: Voted "do pass" by the Committee on Civil and Administrative Law by a vote of 16 to 0.

This substitute makes a number of changes regarding school safety. In its main provisions, the substitute:

(1) Includes bringing weapons to school playgrounds, buses, and activities in the offenses that require a one-year suspension from school (Section 160.261, RSMo);

(2) Requires elementary and secondary schools to report the rates, durations of, and the reasons for student suspensions and expulsions (Section 160.522);

(3) Expands the Missouri school improvement program to require each school district safety coordinator to have knowledge of violence prevention programs and resources and requires school districts to utilize all programs and resources found to be necessary and cost-effective (Section 160.660);

(4) Allows a school district to make certain funding transfers for expenditures related to school safety and security (Section 165.011). The substitute also allows school districts to exclude school safety and security expenditures from operating cost calculations (Section 165.016);

(5) Permits school districts to disclose education records to law enforcement and juvenile justice authorities if it is necessary to effectively serve the student. Currently, student records may be obtained by governmental agencies only with the written permission of a parent or guardian (Section 167.020);

(6) Requires the juvenile office or prosecuting attorney to notify the school when a student's juvenile or criminal case has been completed, including a brief summary of the relevant findings of fact. Current law requires such notification only when a student has allegedly committed a crime (Section 67.115);

(7) Includes school playgrounds, parking lots, and activities in the places in which a student found with controlled substances or weapons must be reported to local law enforcement by the superintendent (Section 167.117);

(8) Changes the funding mechanism for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's satellite broadcast instruction grant program. Currently, the sales tax on videotape rentals is earmarked for such expenditures. The substitute changes the funding method to a fixed amount of $4 million per year (Section 170.250);

(9) Allows a guardian for a minor to be appointed for the sole purpose of school registration or medical insurance coverage. Such a guardian may be appointed if it is shown that the whereabouts or identity of either or both parents remain unknown (Sections 475.060, 475.070);

(10) Creates the crime of trespass of a school bus and makes it a class A misdemeanor (Section 569.155); and

(11) Creates the crime of making a terroristic threat. The substitute defines the crime as communicating a threat to commit a felony, a knowingly false report concerning the commission of any felony, or a knowingly false report concerning the occurrence of a catastrophe. The crime is a class C felony, unless it involves the reckless disregard of the risk of causing the evacuation of a building, in which case it is a class D felony (Section 574.150).

FISCAL NOTE: Estimated Net Cost to General Revenue Fund of $2,652,932 in FY 2001, FY 2002, and FY 2003. Totals exclude Department of Corrections' costs of less than $100,000 annually.

PROPONENTS: Supporters say that this bill gives law enforcement and school districts the tools they need to successfully prevent school violence. The substitute cleans up some problems with the reporting of violent incidents, so that both school districts and law enforcement officials are properly informed about violent students. The provision clarifying exactly what is considered "school property" is needed to prevent students from bringing weapons to school functions. The provisions regarding school budgeting will allow schools to make improvements to their campuses to improve school safety.

Testifying for the bill were Senator Caskey; Gary Kempker, Director of the Department of Public Safety; Mark Van Zandt, Chief Counsel for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education; Missouri National Guard; Missouri Council of School Administrators; Cooperative School Districts of the Kansas City Area; Missouri School Boards Association; Missouri State Teachers Association; Missouri Federation of Teachers; and Cooperative School Districts of Greater St. Louis.

OPPONENTS: There was no opposition voiced to the committee.

Richard Smreker, Legislative Analyst