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Required active shooter training in schools could become a reality for Hawaiʻi

Dion MBD for NPR

State lawmakers want to ensure public school educators and officials are well prepared in the event of an active shooter on campus.

House Bill 1329 would require the state education department to develop and implement an active shooter training program in all schools.

The measure is in response to the rising number of school shootings in the U.S. and noted that the second deadliest K-12 shooting in the nation occurred within the last year.

According to the Department of Education, 152 threats were made to schools throughout the state last year — an increase of about 40 cases from 2019.

However, only 80 of the state’s 258 public schools have undergone active shooter training.

The measure has seen overwhelming support in written testimony, however, some say that active shooter trainings "are not the answer."

Prior to amendments, the bill saw backlash as community members testified against requiring students to undergo the training — citing that it might cause "long-lasting effects on their emotional well-being."

In return, lawmakers adjusted the verbiage to exempt public school students from participating. This would mean that only employees and administrators would undergo training.

"The Department would like to note that should there be any circumstances where an employee's safety is in any way compromised, the Department does have existing processes in place to address these concerns and ensure the safety of all administrators, teachers and staff at our schools," stated Keith Hayashi, DOE's superintendent, in testimony.

The Senate’s education committee approved the proposal Monday to bolster the DOE's safety policies. The committee made changes to the bill to also include all public charter schools.

HB 1329 goes to the chamber’s Ways and Means committee next.

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