Quick summary: Act 91 was House Bill 49, printer’s number in the 2019-20 legislative session. It authorizes necessary fixes to provisions under Act 67 of 2019 regarding school safety personnel to extend the deadline for training requirements. Act 91 also reinstates school police officers’ arrest power but does not give the same authority to private third-party vendors who serve in that role.
Effective date: Provisions of Act 91 regarding school security personnel became effective immediately after the governor signed it into law on November 27, 2019.
Provisions of Act 91
Concerns with Act 67 of 2019: Under Act 67, school security personnel must complete the Basic School Resource Officer Course of Instruction offered by the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO), which consists of 40 hours of class taken over a five-day period. There are approximately 1,800 personnel who are required to complete the training. School districts support the need for training, but urgently needed the extension in the deadline; it is not feasible for everyone to receive training by February 2020.
In addition, Act 67 inadvertently removed the authority of school police arrest officers. Without arrest powers, school police could only detain a student and would have to wait for a local or state police officer to arrive at the school. This could cause delays or problems in rural or other areas where another police officer could not arrive at the school quickly.
Act 91 fixes: Act 91 provides an additional six months for school police officers and school resource officers who were employed or contracted by a school entity or nonpublic school before September 2, 2019 to receive mandated training. The deadline is extended from February 29, 2020 to the beginning of the 2020-21 school year. The training deadline for armed school security guards is still set at February 28, 2020 unless the school board approves an extension due to a hardship in complying with the deadline. A hardship includes: 1) an increased risk to students, staff or visitor due to the absence of school security guards while school is in session because of compliance with the training deadline; or 2) deployment or active military service, illness, family emergency or other approved leave that would prevent compliance with the deadline. Act 91 provides adequate time for those who need the training and not leave schools with the protections that the security personnel provide for the students.
Act 91 also reinstates school police officers’ arrest power, while retaining the intention under Act 67 that private third-party vendors who serve as school police officers do not have the same authority. This change under Act 91 impacts only fully trained school police officers who are public employees. It does not impact independent contractors provided via third-party vendors who may serve as school police officers.