The Minnesota legislature is proposing a school safety law

Minnesota lawmakers propose adding resources for school districts to improve school safety. A bill introduced earlier this month would create a $100 million fund for districts to use for physical building improvements.

“It’s about making sure that if there’s an emergency in a school, the police, the fire department, the school, everyone can communicate,” said Sen. Zach Duckworth, R-Lakeville, who wrote the Senate version. “And we are responding as quickly as possible to help those in need.”

Duckworth previously served on the Lakeville School Board. The district has implemented additional security measures through the company 3D Response Systems.

“We brought it to Lakeville voters,” he declared. “As you can imagine, that could be a pretty expensive thing when you’re talking about all the schools across the state of Minnesota.”

Rep. Elliott Engen, R-White Bear Township, who sponsors the bill in the house, toured the Lakeville Area Schools improvements.

“I looked at all the components and said why that wasn’t rolled out nationally,” Engen said.

Districts applying for funding must have a facility plan that includes a plan for each site that identifies physical changes that would improve safety. Each district could request up to $300,000 for modifications including, but not limited to, the addition of interior bulletproof doors and windows, ballistic wall panels, remote activation systems, and emergency building access for first responders.

“School districts can use this money and apply for this grant if they think they would use it and know how to get it,” Engen said. “This would be a good start to see which components they might want to use from the list.”

The Minnesota School Safety Center would create a list of vendors authorized to provide the safety upgrades, according to the bill.

Although there has not yet been a hearing on the proposed legislation, both the House and Senate versions have bipartisan co-authors.

“I really hope that society in general really does have a paradigm shift,” said Jason Polinski, president and co-owner of 3D Response Systems.

Polinski used his experience as a school resource officer to develop a new approach to building security in 2015. He described the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School as a turning point.

“You see all these incidents and you see all these children who are killed in these incidents,” he said. “Can we fix this?”

3D Response Systems works with school districts to create a multi-pronged plan focused on cover, concealment and communication. Polinksi explained that they equip classrooms with a police button that immediately sends a message to 911 and alerts law enforcement to the room number that called for help.

“Once they press that button, the message is sent and it also activates 1,200 pounds of magnetic pressure on the door and sets off the alarm system inside and outside the building,” he said. “There is [also] ballistic panels, magnets, window enhancements etc installed in a school very tactically installed through the eyes of a SWAT mindset.

However, the company hides the ballistic material so it doesn’t interfere with learning or cause concern among students.

“We came up with very creative solutions to make the classroom look like every other classroom that each of us has been to,” said Michelle Frauenshuh, co-owner and licensed therapist.

She explained that they are also working with schools to provide additional mental health support for students who may be struggling.

“We work with members of the community to stand by children and give them the help they need to redirect their path,” said Frauenshuh. “The other part we do is we provide support should there be an incident. We support the families, the children at school, the community so that they are on the healing path.”

As school safety legislation moves forward, 3D Response Systems could be a vendor the state would work with.

Frauenshuh hopes that the bills presented at this session are just a start.

“Ideally, we’d like the prevention, the intervention, and the community recovery to be a package, so there’s legal support or dollars for state standards, so every county or private school could have access to a really robust team to go around.” addressing the mental health components early on, a school that is safe and has access to a specialized team should anything happen,” she said.


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