In May 2023, Tennessee legislators passed HB0322. The law mandates that elementary and secondary schools heighten security measures and offers new safety resources to public and private schools in Tennessee. Lawmakers filed the legislation before the March 2023 deadly shooting at Covenant School in Nashville and made several additions as a legislative response to the tragedy.

Both the Tennessee House and Senate approved the bill, which allocates $230 million for enhanced safety, including $30 million to place school resource officers in every public school, $54 million toward security upgrades for public and private schools, $140 million to place Homeland Security agents in every county to coordinate school security responses, and $8 million to provide new school-based behavioral help staff. The legislation calls for schools to invest in safety solutions, including school alert systems featuring silent panic buttons and other technologies.

According to Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, “Nothing is more important than Tennessee students and teachers returning home from school safely each day. Every year since 2019, we’ve worked with the General Assembly to prioritize school safety, and this year, we’ve passed significant measures to fund an armed SRO for every public school, enhance mental health support and boost physical security at public and private schools across Tennessee.”

HB0322 Requirements

Tennessee HB0322 specifies the following requirements for public schools and school districts:

  • Schools must share safety plans, floor plans, and security systems access with state and local law enforcement annually.
  • Districts must form threat assessment teams to ensure students are connected to support services and behavioral health professionals when appropriate. (These teams are currently encouraged but not legally required.)
  • All newly built public school facilities must install classroom door locks and secure visitor entry vestibules.
  • Exterior doors must be locked while students are present.

According to Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally, the safety of Tennessee schools “is of paramount importance, and I am grateful we were in the financial position to quickly allocate the funds for these improvements.” 

HB0322 is a multilayered piece of legislation that includes new grant funding for schools to be directed toward:

  • expanded mental health support and resources for parents
  • strengthened school safety practices
  • increased law enforcement engagement

 

HB0322 Mandates Safety Plans

Under HB0322, each Local Education Agency (LEA) in Tennessee must adopt a comprehensive district-wide school safety plan and building-level school safety plans. HB0322 mandates that district-wide and school-wide safety teams must develop these plans. Safety plans must detail districts’ and schools’ procedures in these categories:

  • crisis intervention
  • emergency response
  • emergency management 

HB0322 requires that these plans adhere to the state-issued School Safety Plan Template. Any LEA having only one school building must develop a single building-level school safety plan. These plans must fulfill the same requirements as a district-wide safety plan. 

Mobile Panic Alert Systems Enhance School Safety

HB0322 mandates that safety teams be created at the district and school levels. These safety teams are responsible for choosing effective and easily integrated technologies to increase staff and student safety. School alert systems that include silent panic alarms empower staff members to request immediate assistance in any emergency. 

Mobile panic alert solutions shorten emergency response times by connecting directly to 911 dispatch services. Mobile panic alert technology integrates with local public safety answering infrastructure to transmit 911 calls and mobile activations. School and district safety teams that invest in school alert systems invest in shortening emergency response times and creating a multilayered approach to safety in their schools.

HB0322 and mobile panic button

CENTEGIX Safety Blueprint Aids in HB0322 Compliance

CENTEGIX innovates technology to empower and protect staff and students. As Tennessee schools prepare to invest HB0322 funding in new technologies, they should seek school safety solutions that make compliance easier and create a culture of safety in schools. Under the legislation, schools are required to “annually share safety plans, floor plans, and security systems access with state and local law enforcement” as well as utilize technology ensuring “real-time coordination between multiple first responder agencies.”

CENTEGIX Safety Blueprint™ is an ideal solution to comply with the legislation since it provides a dynamic, comprehensive campus map that works in concert with the CrisisAlert wearable panic button. Editing and updating of building features or grounds are managed within the application. These changes are reflected throughout the platform. The maps are fully customizable and can be “layered” to serve different departments’ unique needs and assets. Departments that can utilize CENTEGIX Safety Blueprint technology to monitor and increase safety measures include but are not limited to:

  • facilities
  • security
  • IT 

CENTEGIX Safety Blueprint updates and customizations can be scaled to serve the needs of individual schools or entire school districts. District-wide and school-wide safety teams can use this technology to meet HB0322 reporting requirements as they make schools safer.

Safety Blueprint technology is unique in its capacity to update in real-time. According to Chris Farkas, COO of Hillsborough County Schools in Florida, “The minute we receive a map in an architectural drawing or PDF is the minute it is out of date. If I have to call an architect or vendor for updates then I am wasting time and money. CENTEGIX Safety Blueprint is the best of both worlds: we can make updates in real-time and we don’t have to spend money every time we make a change. The asset management and inventory management capability is icing on the cake.” CENTEGIX Safety Blueprint meets the needs of district- and school-wide safety teams seeking scalable technologies that function in real-time.

CENTEGIX mobile panic button, communication and and HB0322

CENTEGIX CrisisAlert Facilitates Emergency Communication

CENTEGIX CrisisAlert performs the communication functions mandated in HB0322. HB0322 Amendment 3 requires “each district-wide school safety team and building-level school safety team to consider including in the safety plan the implementation of a mobile panic alert system.” 

Mobile panic alert systems should be capable of connecting diverse emergency services technologies. The most effective school alert systems integrate with the local public safety answering point (PSAP) infrastructure to transmit 911 calls and mobile activations. 

CENTEGIX CrisisAlert connects school staff and administrators directly to a PSAP. CrisisAlert’s mobile panic buttons empower every staff member to request immediate assistance and initiate communication with first responders. With CrisisAlert, every staff member in the LEA is equipped with a wearable panic button that enables them to request medical help, assistance with student behavior, or intervention in a violent situation. Staff can even trigger a lockdown in extreme circumstances using their mobile panic alert button. 

CrisisAlert provides the following functionality:

  • one-button activation on wearable devices
  • immediate emergency notification to 911 dispatch
  • total facility coverage
  • audio and visual notification
  • location accuracy
  • easy installation and integration with existing technologies

Tennessee’s HB0322 also requires that during a drill or an emergency, each LEA or public charter school must grant responding law enforcement agencies access to security systems when necessary for the agency’s response. CENTEGIX CrisisAlert technology facilitates first responder access to the location of an emergency situation. 

School leaders’ top priority is student, teacher, and staff safety. CENTEGIX’s CrisisAlert and Safety Blueprint are critical components of a multi-layered school safety plan that helps Tennessee districts and schools to meet HB0322 requirements. By incorporating the capabilities of CENTEGIX’s innovative technology with current security measures, Tennessee districts will be positioned to address all potential threats, from the everyday to the extreme.