LSU Journalism coverage of the State Legislature

The Senate on Wednesday approved bills involving student safety, behavioral health options and school bus route priorities.

One outlines ways for students to anonymously report dangerous social media posts to school administrators.

The bill, authored by Rep. Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport, would require public high schools and colleges to instruct students on how to detect potential threats in social media posts. The schools would have to establish protocols for proving that the content was threatening.

The bill also would have school officials and campus security officers report online content to law enforcement agencies when it is deemed potentially dangerous.

According to CNN, there has been an average of one school shooting a week in America in 2018. Norton described her bill in an earlier committee meeting as “an effort to save some lives.”

The Senate also passed a bill by Rep. Vincent Pierre, D-Lafayette, that would let private behavioral health providers treat students during school hours if the student's parent presented an evaluation indicating that the services were necessary during school hours.

Ideally, students would receive services during recess or lunch. The bill would allow treatment during core classes only if the school and the health provider agree it is in the best interest of the student.

Sen. Gerald Boudreaux, D-Lafayette, presented the bill on Pierre’s behalf. He said the intent of the bill was to allow students to retain a continuity of care from a provider with whom already offers services to the child.

The bill passed the floor 23-6. The six senators voting against were five Republicans--Jim Fannin from Jonesboro, Beth Mizell from Franklinton, Barrow Peacock from Bossier City, Neil Riser from Columbia, and Mike Walsworth from West Monroe--and the lone Democrat, Francis Thompson from Delhi.

A bill by Rep. James Armes, D-Leesville, would require school districts to notify current bus drivers of route vacancies by mail to give those priority in changing routes to those with the most seniority.

All three of the bills had previously been approved by the House and will return there for approval of Senate amendments.

Originally published May 16.