State Senator Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) has announced important progress in ongoing efforts to improve school safety. A new security technology alert device is now eligible for school safety grants to cut down on response times in emergencies and help protect teachers and students. At the push of a button from teachers, the new technology can alert law enforcement and school administrators to threats while also providing real-time video footage of the classroom or surrounding area.
After Pody filed legislation this year to make the new security technology eligible for school safety grants, the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) agreed to approve the technology administratively. Now, instead of waiting on the months-long legislative process, the new technology is available to schools immediately. TDOE will be notifying school districts across the state that the school safety grant eligibility is expanded to cover this technology.
“This technology has the potential to save lives, and I am so grateful to the Department of Education for streamlining the process of approving the technology for school safety grant funding,” said Pody. “It will improve the response time of law enforcement and EMS to immediate classroom threats such as discipline issues, medical emergencies, or active shooters. It will be like having a Ring doorbell on teachers’ lanyards that alerts the appropriate personnel. When teachers press that button, they know help is coming.”
Pody worked for months with teachers, administrators, school safety experts, and technology developers to identify needs and make this life-saving technology available to schools and teachers. The legislation that resulted from these meetings laid out how the new device would work. Among the requirements in the bill are that the device must have GPS tracking along with real-time video and audio recording capabilities, which will be turned on when one of three color-coded buttons is pressed for respective emergencies.
- Behavior issues – If a teacher is having a major or dangerous behavior issue with a student, one button will alert the school administrator and school resource officer (SRO) that a teacher needs immediate assistance. The recording will also give definitive proof of the incident, which can help parents or law enforcement address the specific behavior issue of the student.
- Medical emergency – In the case of a medical emergency on school grounds, one button will require the immediate assistance of the school nurse and alert local EMS.
- Active threat or active shooter – Another button will alert law enforcement, SROs, and school administrators of an active shooter or active threat situation at the school. The real-time audio and visual recording will help law enforcement quickly track the threat and enable officers to work quickly and decisively to remove the threat.
The funding for the school safety grants is a result of legislation passed by the General Assembly in 2023. Lawmakers approved over $230 million in the budget to place a school resource officer (SRO) at every Tennessee public school, boost physical security at public and private schools, and provide additional mental health resources for Tennesseans.