Suicide prevention training, safety director approved

School staff members will receive annual training on suicide awareness and prevention under a bill passed by the Legislature April 17.

Under LB923, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Amanda McGill, all public school nurses, teachers, counselors, school psychologists, school social workers and administrators will receive at least one hour of training each year, beginning with the 2014-15 school year.

The required training will be included under the existing in-service training framework required by the state Department of Education or as part of required professional development activities. The department will be required to collaborate with appropriate organizations and experts to develop a list of approved training materials.

The bill also incorporates provisions of LB872, originally introduced by Omaha Sen. Rick Kolowski. It creates the position of state school security director under the department, effective Jan. 1, 2015. The director’s duties include:
• collecting safety and security plans from each school system;
• recommending minimum standards for school security;
• conducting an assessment of the security of each public school building;
• identifying deficiencies in school security based on the minimum standards adopted by the state;
• establishing security awareness and preparedness tools and training programs for public school staff;
• establishing research-based model instructional programs for staff, students and parents to address causes for violent attacks on schools; and
• overseeing suicide awareness and prevention training.

The bill exempts private, parochial and denominational schools from the state school security director’s authority. Exempted school districts still are able to consult with the security director on individual matters.

LB923 also incorporates provisions of LB782, originally introduced by Omaha Sen. Steve Lathrop. It establishes a “return-to-learn” protocol to help ease the transition for students who have suffered a concussion.

Provisions LB741, originally introduced by Gretna Sen. John Murante, are also included in LB923. It requires that public school districts conduct at least two tornado preparedness drills each school year.

Senators passed the bill on a 45-0 vote.

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