Colorado School Safety Committee recommends new law to keep students safe

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DENVER -- Following the STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting in the spring, state lawmakers established an interim committee to examine school safety in Colorado.

On Thursday, the committee completed its work, recommending five new laws for the General Assembly to take up in January.

Idea #1 

Reform Safe2Tell

Draft legislation indicates lawmakers want to look at whether Safe2Tell, the crisis hotline in Colorado, should be improved.

The legislation calls for phone calls and messages to first go to a crisis response operator and then to the police.

The attorney general would also be able to disclose personal information about a call in the event of an imminent threat.

"If the attorney general, under current law, says, 'Hey, school, we have this problem -- it's going to happen right now,' the attorney general could be prosecuted," Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet , the chair of the safety committee, said.

Idea #2 

Excused absences for students dealing with mental health issues

This legislation updates legislation from 1963, giving school districts the ability to allow parents to call "sick days" for their child in the event the child is dealing with a mental health issue.

"We must end the stigma," State Sen. Rhonda Fields said of the legislation.

Idea #3 

New and improved training for teachers to spot behavioral health issues

Idea #4 

Closer look at mental health beds for juveniles

Idea #5 

New work group to study state inefficiencies with school safety and examine lockdown drill effectiveness.

WHAT WASN'T ADDRESSED 

The committee did not tackle the controversial issues of gun control, arming teachers or even the less controversial suicide prevention funding.

"We created this committee as a bipartisan committee. We knew that meant there were some things that weren't going to come out of this committee," Michaelson Jenet said.

John Castillo, who lost his son Kendrick in the Highlands Ranch shooting, applauds the work of lawmakers. But he also looks forward to a more robust debate on guns in the near future.

"Have they gone far enough? Not yet," said Castillo, who attended the hearing Thursday. "The changes are happening. I wish they would happen somewhat quicker."

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