TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblyman Brandon Umba and Assemblywoman Michele Matsikoudis voted favorably on all school safety-related bills during the Assembly Education Committee hearing on Thursday, but argued it was not enough and pressured Chairwoman Pamela Lampitt to prioritize additional measures to protect schoolchildren.
“This legislation is a step in the right direction for improving school safety,” Umba (R-Burlington) said of a bill (A4075/A3229) establishing threat assessment teams at schools. “As stated by the majority leader to work with the other side of the aisle, I’m going to move an amendment to require law enforcement training on threat assessment policies and school emergency responses.”
Democrats tabled the motion, but Lampitt endorsed sponsoring a standalone bill.
Before casting her yes vote on the threat assessment bill, Matsikoudis urged members of the committee to consider the bigger picture of school safety.
“This is only one piece of a larger puzzle. School safety across the country has not only become necessary, but it’s a priority,” Matsikoudis (R-Union) said. “As a co-sponsor of Assemblywoman Eulner’s bill and nine other bills in the school safety package, I ask and encourage that at the next education meeting these bills be considered.”
Assembly Republicans sponsor a comprehensive 10-bill school safety package based on recommendations from two panels of experts created in the wake of the 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
During an Assembly voting session on May 26, just two days after the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, Assemblywoman Kim Eulner implored Democrats to pass her bill (A303) that would standardize school emergency response training for police. Democrats blocked the floor vote. Majority Leader Louis Greenwald defended the inaction, but invited Eulner to work with him to possibly move bills forward in the future.