Chairman McCaul Introduces Securing Our Schools Act
Washington, D.C. – House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) recently introduced H.R. 5731, the Securing Our Schools Act. This legislation, scheduled to be marked up by the Committee this week, requires the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop a Department-wide strategy for its efforts to support school security and clarifies the allowable uses of State Homeland Security Grant Program and Urban Area Security Initiative funding for school security. Additionally, the bill authorizes the Department’s Office of Academic Engagement within the Office of Partnership and Engagement to be responsible for conducting outreach and serving as a liaison between the Department and educational institutions.
Chairman McCaul: “Ensuring the security and wellbeing of our students and teachers is of the utmost importance. The recent school shootings, like the one at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school, highlight the vulnerability of our education institutions. My bill requires the Secretary to draft a DHS-wide school security strategy and ensures the Department’s grant programs can be used to enhance school security. Lastly, it authorizes the Office of Academic Engagement to conduct outreach to facilitate effective communication with schools on available DHS programs and other assistance.”
Key Points of the Bill:
- School Security Strategy – Requires the Secretary of Homeland Security, through the Under Secretary of the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD), to develop a Department-wide strategy on efforts and activities related to securing schools. The strategy must include a description of coordination within the Department, ongoing Department efforts, the manner in which the Department works with state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, and recommendations for future efforts and activities to secure schools.
- Homeland Security Grants – Clarifies that State Homeland Security Grant Program and Urban Area Security Initiative funding may be used for school security and codifies the following activities related to school security: planning, training, exercises, information sharing, and target hardening.
- Office of Academic Engagement – Authorizes the Department’s Office of Academic Engagement within the Office of Partnership and Engagement, led by an Executive Director responsible for conducting outreach and serving as a liaison between the Department and educational institutions.