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Hundreds of schools to install panic buttons in classrooms

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BATON ROUGE- Video taken during the summer shows Pointe Coupee deputies practicing an active-shooter drill.

It happened in the days after a gunman opened fire in Uvalde, Texas, killing teachers and students. With the threat of dangers in schools always looming and on top of minds, state education leaders on Tuesday told state lawmakers those drills are just one thing they are focusing on now to keep kids safe.

"Parents are sending their kids to learn. We need to be sure that is what they are getting, learning, and they are secure in that learning space," state Rep. Vanessa LaFleur, D-District 101 said.

Inside a committee room, there was discussion about classroom safety the goal of a new, bi-partisan committee formed during the recent legislative session.

"If there is legislation that needs to be filed, we will have enough time to file that legislation," LaFleur said, "In that seat today, I'm going to have the ears of a mother."

Committee members heard from the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness and the State Department of Education.

The takeaway is that 99% of schools have an emergency operations plan, but only 47% of schools have a resource officer.

While some school have extra security in the halls, others have access to state police-funded panic buttons, an alternative to dialing 911 in an emergency. Those buttons are installed in the classrooms of 674 schools, 455 are in the process of installing them, 600 still deciding, and 100 schools opting out.

"We funded it from the beginning, we intend to fund it moving forward," Casey Tingle, the Director of the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said.

The committee will continue meeting until February. Then they will present what they found and their recommendations.

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