Education Commission of the States researched K-12 school safety policies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to provide this comprehensive resource. This resource does not include district- or school-level policies, handbooks, manuals or other sources outside of state statute or regulations. Education Commission of the States does not provide legal advice on specific circumstances. The information here gives an overview of relevant laws in each state and does not reflect how these laws may interact with other state or federal policies.
Click on the safety topic below for 50-State Comparisons showing how all states approach policies in that area. View a specific state’s approach by going to the individual state profiles page.
1. School Safety Plans includes whether state law or regulations require school safety plans, the entity responsible for creating the plan, whether law enforcement must be involved in creating the plan and the frequency with which the plan must be reviewed and updated.
2. School Safety Audits includes whether state law or regulations require safety audits of school facilities, the entity responsible for completing safety audits, the frequency with which audits must be completed and whether law enforcement must be involved in the audit.
3. School Safety Drills includes state law or regulations requiring drills related to school safety or security and the frequency with which such drills must be completed.
4. School Resource Officers includes definitions, certification requirements and training requirements found in state law or regulations for school resource officers.
5. Weapons in Schools includes whether state law or regulations allow the following individuals to possess weapons in schools: school security personnel, other school employees and concealed carry permit holders. Additionally, it includes whether districts, schools or school boards have authority to decide whether they will allow weapons in their schools.
Key Takeaways from State Policy:
- At least 43 states and the District of Columbia require a school safety plan in statute or regulation. At least 29 states and the District of Columbia require law enforcement agencies to be involved in the creation of a school safety plan.
- At least 13 states and the District of Columbia have a statutory or regulatory requirement for a school safety audit of school facilities. At least five states require law enforcement agencies to be present in conducting this audit.
- At least 42 states require schools to conduct safety or security drills in state statute or regulation. Other states may require drills through handbooks, guides or other rules.
- At least 29 states and the District of Columbia define school resource officers in state statute or regulations. Other states may define school resource officers in handbooks, guides or other rules. At least 28 states and the District of Columbia require training, either similar to what’s required of traditional law enforcement or tailored specifically for school resource officers.
- States allow or prohibit the carrying of weapons for three key groups on school campuses: school resource officers, other school employees and concealed carry permit holders. Additionally, some states allow local authorities to determine whether to allow weapons on campus and who may carry them.
- At least 30 states and the District of Columbia allow school security personnel to possess weapons in schools.
- At least nine states allow other school employees to possess weapons in schools, typically only if they meet certain criteria.
- At least 11 states allow concealed carry permit holders to possess weapons in schools.
- At least 24 states give school districts or school boards the authority to decide whether they will allow weapons in school.
View enacted and vetoed legislation on school safety on our State Education Policy Tracking resource (2017-2019) and pending legislation from our 2019 State Education Policy Watch List.
PUBLISHED: February 25, 2019
RESOURCE TYPE: 50-State Comparison