NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) – Tennessee schools can now equip teachers with emergency alert devices worn on lanyards, allowing law enforcement to quickly respond to any incidents in the classroom.
It was a bill filed this session but pulled this week after the Tennessee Department of Education approved the new device. Instead of waiting on a months-long legislative process, schools can get the new technology for teachers now.
Several companies will be selling the devices that school districts will have the option to purchase. While all are different, most would crack down on behavior issues, medical emergencies and active shooter situations.
Senator Mark Pody (R-Lebanon), who originally sponsored the bill, said it’s a Ring doorbell camera for teachers. It allows them to contact law enforcement or an SRO with the push of a button and record what’s happening.
There may be a problem with funding this initiative. The funding for this project would come from the 2023 school safety grant, which was provided to districts following the Covenant School shooting last year. However, most districts have already allocated these funds towards other safety features. Senator Pody has reassured there will be another funding opportunity.
“We’ve talked to the Governor’s staff and the Governor,” he said. “We haven’t seen the budget yet, but they will refund the budget again. So, we believe there will be a new source as soon as the budget is left.”
Pody added that if schools already spent the grant money, they could buy the devices next school year with the new budget. He also mentioned teachers don’t have to wear the device.
“There’s no teacher that has to do this,” he said. “There’s nothing in here mandatory. It’s just optional. And if it helps show parents your child is doing this in school, we need some help with some discipline or some guidance on that, then, that’s going to be a very strong tool for both parents and teachers and help that child get a better education.”
TDOE will send a letter to schools soon letting them know they can buy the new devices.