Quick summary: Act 67 was Senate Bill 621, printer’s number 1081 in the 2019-20 legislative session. It makes numerous changes to the School Code concerning the hiring and training of school security personnel.
Effective date: Act 67 became effective in 60 days after the governor signed it into law on July 2, 2019.
Provisions of Act 67
Act 67 makes numerous changes to Article XIII-C of the School Code, including changing the title of the article from “School Police Officers and School Resource Officers” to “School Security.” Most changes involve school security personnel, including school police officers, school resource officers (SROs) and school security guards.
Concerning school police officers, the act:
- Amends the definition of school police officer to include an independent contractor or individual provided through a third-party vendor.
- Requires a judge to grant a school police officer authority to carry firearms at the request of a school entity or nonpublic school if the officer satisfies training requirements.
- Clarifies training requirements as follows: A school police officer must successfully complete the Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training or have graduated from the State Police Academy and have been employed as a state trooper and separated in good standing. School police officers must complete the Basic School Resource Officer Course of Instruction or an equivalent program approved by the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD).
- Adds a school bus going to or from school activities to the list of areas a school police officer can enforce order.
- Clarifies that school entities and nonpublic schools are included in authority to enter into cooperative police service agreements.
- Specifies that a school entity or nonpublic school may contract with an independent contractor or third-party vendor to provide a school police officer. An independent contractor is defined as an individual, including a retired federal agent or retired state, municipal or military police officer, retired sheriff/deputy sheriff, whose responsibility and work hours are established in a written contract with a school entity or nonpublic school.
- Removes the ability of school police officers to exercise the same authority as municipal police officers.
Concerning school resource officers (SROs), the act:
- Allows nonpublic schools to have SROs.
- Allows active certified sheriffs and deputy sheriffs to serve as SROs.
- Sets training requirements as follows: SROs must complete the Basic School Resource Officer Course of Instruction offered by the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) or an equivalent approved by PCCD prior to starting duties. Those currently employed as SROs will have six months from the effective date of this requirement to complete the training.
Concerning school security guards, the act:
- Allows nonpublic schools to have school security guards.
- Allows independent contractors to serve as school security guards.
- Clarifies that a school security guard is an individual assigned for routine safety and security duties and is not a school police officer with authority to issue citations or detain individuals.
- Allows a school entity or nonpublic school to contract with an independent contractor or third-party vendor to provide school security guard services.
- Sets training requirements as follows: School security guards must complete the Basic School Resource Officer Course of Instruction offered by NASRO or an equivalent approved by PCCD. Those currently serving as security guards have six months to complete the training from the effective date of this requirement.
- Clarifies that a school entity or nonpublic school may employ or contract with an independent contractor or a third-party vendor for an armed security guard if the individual meets a variety of law enforcement and weapons training requirements. If provided in the written contract, an independent contractor shall be treated as an employee of a local agency.
Additional requirements for the PCCD include:
- In conjunction with PDE and the State Police, periodically reassess the training requirements for all school security personnel, including the Basic School Resource Officer Course of Instruction offered by NASRO.
- Establish criteria for certifying third party vendors to provide school security services, including posting a listing of all approved third-party vendors.
- Submit an annual report to the General Assembly on school security.