Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee Increases School Security Budget After Transgender Shooting

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has requested an increase in his school security budget, one week following the mass shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville.

The move comes after a 28-year-old transgender man opened fire on students at the private Christian school that they had once attended. Six people were killed, including three children.


“This past week will certainly be remembered as one of the most heartbreaking weeks in our state’s history,” Lee said. “The history books will also reflect how Tennessee leaders responded.”

Audrey Hale, a 28-year-old biological female from Nashville, carried out the killings, which claimed the lives of Cynthia Peak (61), Katherine Koonce (60), Mike Hill (61), and three children, Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney (all aged 9), on March 27.

Nashville Police officers arrived at the scene and killed Hale. Despite Hale using male pronouns and the name Aidan on social media, the police have not uncovered a motive for the shooting. They have, however, confirmed that Hale had been planning the crime for months, based on personal writings found after the tragedy occurred. There are also reports they were receiving treatment for mental health issues, including an “emotional disorder.”

Lee said that the state will allocate funds to station an armed security guard at every school throughout the state, including private and public buildings, stating that it is imperative to ensure safety. The proposed budget amendments will allocate $140 million for the recruitment and training of security guards.


The governor also announced his intention to create a grant fund to support security enhancements at public and nonpublic schools. He will also intensify funding for mental health support services.

“I’m asking the General Assembly to bring forth a number of proposals to look at,” said Lee. “Any proposal on the table that will accomplish what I think is most important- keeping those that are a danger away from weapons- and protecting Constitutional rights. That is something that can be done, and we should find a way to do that going forward. Whatever that looks like, I’m open to that.”

“There is nothing more important than our students safely returning home each day,” he continued. “As Tennessee grieves the tragic loss of six precious lives in the Covenant shooting, we are taking additional actions to significantly boost safety measures at every school with highly-trained guards, physical security enhancements and mental health resources.”

The president of the Tennessee Education Association, Tayna Coats, praised the move in a statement on the TEA Facebook page.

The safety of students and educators is foremost in all of our minds, and we believe firm steps need to be taken to avoid tragedies in the future. TEA applauds Gov. Lee’s and legislative leadership’s announcement to take immediate steps to fund school resource officers in every school, improve school security and invest in mental health support. As educators, we know providing a safe learning environment is critical to student learning. TEA is committed to working with state and local leaders to ensure common-sense legislation is passed to provide students and educators the safe teaching and learning environment they deserve.


Gov. Lee, meanwhile, appears resolute in beefing up security across the state. “There is no excuse to not have a guard in every school,” Lee said. “We cannot control evil, but we can do something. Our work to ensure the safety of Tennessee students and teachers will not stop.”


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