Committee holds hearing on Senator White’s school safety bill

The Senate Education Committee today (September 16) held a public hearing on Senate Bill 1193, legislation introduced by Senator Don White that would give school boards the option of allowing licensed and trained staff to carry firearms on school property.         

SB 1193 would allow school personnel to have access to firearms in school safety zones if school districts establish proper guidelines and they are licensed to carry a concealed firearm and have met certain training requirements in the use and handling of firearms.

“Since the introduction of SB 1193, there has been much discussion about what the bill does and how it relates to current Pennsylvania law,” Senator White said. “To be clear, this bill is not about the Second Amendment.  It’s about permitting the 500 school districts of this Commonwealth to have greater choices when it comes to protecting our most precious resource – our children.”

After his remarks to the Education Committee, Senator White introduced Mark Zilinskas, a mathematics teacher with the Indiana Area School District and the man who gave him the idea and motivation to introduce this bill.

Click here to visit the Senate Education Committee webpage for complete coverage of the hearing.


Joe Pittman
(724) 357-0151

Senator White’s bill to improve school safety goes to Governor

Legislation drafted by Senator Don White that will give local school districts the option to contract for police service as a way to improve safety in classrooms and reduce response times in the event of an emergency received final legislative approval today (July 1) and now goes to Governor Corbett for his signature and enactment into law.

Senate Bill 1194 will give public and non-public school districts in communities where police services are furnished solely by the Pennsylvania State Police the option to contract with municipal police from nearby jurisdictions to provide security as well as school resource officers in their schools.

“A number of schools located in municipalities covered by the PSP are geographically within a short distance of local police departments,” Senator White said. “My legislation would allow school districts to contract for those services, which will enable additional response in emergency situations, as well as the opportunity for neighboring police departments to build relationships with school personnel and students in their nearby communities.

When Senator White introduced Senate Bill 1194 on November 22, 2013 with the intent of deterring and responding to school violence, he never imagined that the next incident would occur on April 9 at Franklin Regional High School – a school in his Senatorial District.

“To be clear, had SB 1194 been enacted prior to that tragedy, it would not have prevented it. Franklin Regional School District is already very capably protected by a full-time municipal police force. The first responders who assisted at the scene did their job with the utmost thoroughness and professionalism and they certainly saved lives. I appreciate and am thankful for their service,” Senator White said.

“However, many of our 500 school districts and many of Pennsylvania’s private schools do not have local police coverage immediately available and they would certainly benefit from the options provided by my bill,” Senator White continued.

Contact:          Joe Pittman     (724) 357-0151

School Safety Agenda Unveiled

For Immediate Release


HARRISBURG – School superintendents, safety experts and state and local police officers will testify before two Senate committees about what it takes to keep students safe on school grounds.

The hearing will be held on Feb. 13 in Harrisburg before the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, chaired by Sen. Lisa Baker (R-20), and the Senate Education Committee, chaired by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-48).

“While Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech and Nickel Mines are still vivid and painful memories, this hearing will explore far more than preventing armed intruders and mass shootings on school property,” said Baker.  “Fighting, bullying, and other abuses are far more frequent and we need to search for more effective solutions.”

Among the legislation expected to be addressed is a proposal by Sen. Joe Scarnati (R-25) to give grants for school safety and violence prevention.

“There is no one-size-fits-all answer,” Baker added.  “We can learn a lot by listening to what is already being done and what the suggestions are for improvements.”

The hearing agenda (attached) includes Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis, State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan, highly trained crisis response team members, school board members and teachers.



Jen Wilson
(570) 675-3931