Why Is the Biden Administration Hesitant About Allowing Federal Funds to Be Used for School Security?

AP Photo/John Amis

Only days after the school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee, reporting suggests that the Biden administration has been making it difficult for schools to access much-needed federal funding to employ enhanced security measures. It appears the White House under this president is more concerned about restricting legal gun ownership than helping schools protect their students.

The top Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), has issued a warning to the Biden administration about the potential dangers that could arise due to “confusion” over funds granted in last year’s bipartisan school safety bill. Cassidy has called on Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to direct his department to clarify that schools can use funding from the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) to enhance their security and hold security training sessions. The lawmaker also demanded a written plan of action from the administration that includes how it intends to “remove federal administrative barriers to the spending of dollars by districts” under the law.

According to Cassidy, school officials have had difficulty accessing the funds needed to “harden schools,” which includes measures such as fortifying them with single-entry points, reinforcing windows and doors, and fencing, according to Fox News. The lawmaker believes that the confusion surrounding the funds could lead to dangerous delays in protecting students.

In a letter to Cardona, Cassidy wrote, “States and district leaders need to know that they can and should use these funds to harden schools. Any confusion about that fact could lead to dangerous delays in protecting our students.” Cassidy was among the lead negotiators on the bipartisan firearm and school safety measure, which allocated over $1 billion for the Education Department to spend on school mental health services, and another $1 billion for school improvements.

Despite the funds being made available, Louisiana State Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley revealed that his schools “struggled” to access the funding they needed, and he credited Cassidy with helping them get dollars toward “structured access control.” Brumley emphasized that his intent was to utilize these one-time funds to harden their school perimeters, but initially, they struggled to gain approval from the Education Department to use the funds in this manner.

As Democrats and members of the activist media are exploiting the Nashville school shooting, others are touting the benefits of making it harder for would-be school shooters to carry out mass shootings in these facilities. Proponents of these methods argue that hardening schools with increased physical security measures such as single-entry points, reinforced doors and windows, fencing, surveillance cameras, and metal detectors can deter potential shooters from attacking.

Tennessee Senators Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty, both Republicans, introduced a new bill called the Securing Aid for Every (SAFE) School Act that would allocate $900 million of taxpayer dollars to public and private schools to enhance physical security and hire armed security personnel.

The proposed legislation would give states financial support to establish training and licensing programs for veterans and former law enforcement officers to protect children from potential threats such as shooters. Additionally, the bill would provide grants to schools to install surveillance cameras, metal detectors, alarm systems, and locks in hallways and classrooms.

Sen.Blackburn had this to say about the shooting:

“I am beyond heartbroken at the shooting that occurred at the Covenant School in Nashville. No parent should have to endure what these families are experiencing. Schools should be places where children are safe to learn, play, and be children. My legislation with Senator Hagerty will allow both public and private schools to train and hire veterans and former law enforcement officers to serve as school safety officers as well as increase physical security measures to harden schools. By providing these critical funds, we can help protect our precious children and secure our schools.

“Schools should be places where children are safe to learn, play, and be children. And every parent should have the confidence that when they send their children off to school, they will return home safely. We must work together to protect our children at school and that means increasing security.”

The bill aims to address the issue of private schools having to fund their own school resource officers (SROs) without the help of taxpayer dollars. In contrast, government-funded schools already receive financial support for the same purpose.

Research indicates that schools with strict physical security measures and armed guards are less likely to be targeted by mass shooters. Moreover, the suspect involved in the recent mass shooting at a private school in Nashville reportedly was deterred by the school’s security.

However, both public and private schools face challenges in affording and retaining school resource officers. While many states, including Tennessee, are looking to mandate the hiring of armed guards for schools, Democrats have repeatedly rejected legislation designed to sponsor and codify security overhauls. Some activists have also opposed the idea of teachers carrying guns in the classroom.

For all their talk about wanting to protect children, the Biden administration appears to be more focused on enacting the president’s radical anti-gun agenda by any means necessary. Democrats have been blowing off suggestions that schools should become hard targets and have been focusing on getting America on board with more gun control laws. Meanwhile, the nation’s schoolchildren remain vulnerable because Democrats in government and the media are more worried about protecting their agenda than keeping these kids safe.

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