New laws strengthen student safety

Written by woody on September 3rd, 2019

As summer winds down and a new school year begins, keeping young Hoosiers safe remains a top priority for everyone in our community. Several new laws strengthen student safety as they travel to and from school, and spend their days in the classroom.

If you have been outside in the early morning or midafternoon, chances are you have seen school buses on the road. We must all remember to pay attention and stop for school buses picking up or dropping off students. When a bus is stopped with its flashing red lights activated and its stop arm extended, drivers are required to stop when approaching it from any direction. If motorists are on a highway that is divided by a barrier or unpaved area, they are only required to stop if they are traveling in the same direction as the school bus.

Most drivers follow these traffic laws, but there are many who are either unaware or disregard the law completely. In fact, Hoosier bus drivers report an average of more than 2,500 stop-arm violations each day.

To keep students safe and hold motorists accountable when they fail to stop for a bus, I supported a new law increasing the penalty for injuring or killing someone as a result of recklessly passing a school bus. This could result in larger fines and longer jail sentences, and a violator’s driver’s license can be suspended for up to a year.

Once students arrive at school, they and others should continue to be safe. With new laws I supported, local schools have more flexibility to qualify for school safety matching grants, which can be used toward adding mental health resources, hiring school resource officers or improving physical security. Before providing mental health services, schools must meet with a student’s parents or guardians to discuss any concerns and obtain their consent.

Schools can also use grant money to implement app-based emergency response systems that alert all on-duty and off-duty police officers in the area when activated. This enables law enforcement to act quickly in the rare event of an emergency.

To improve communication between local law enforcement and schools, officials can now share information related to school safety so they can work together to better protect students. Without this new law, information concerning a student’s potentially alarming behavior, school files or criminal records could not be shared between schools and police, even if it pertained to public safety threats. These efforts will help protect young Hoosiers, educators and school visitors. 

Indiana continues to be a leader when it comes to keeping our schools safe, and these additional measures will better protect our schools. By working together, we can ensure young Hoosiers have a secure school environment. I wish all the students and educators back at school a fun and safe year of learning!


State Rep. Woody Burton (R-Whiteland) represents House District 58,

which includes a portion of Johnson County.

Click here to download a high-resolution photo.


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