Senate Leaders Made School Safety a Top Priority

Denver -- Senate Majority Leader Mark Scheffel (R-Parker) has led the way on a number of major reforms during a distinguished tenure at the Statehouse, on everything from tax policy to telecom to affordable housing. But a major focus of Scheffel's final two sessions, working in close partnership with Senate President Bill Cadman (R-Colorado Springs), was on ensuring that Colorado public schools become safer places to learn, teach and work.

The Cadman-Scheffel partnership produced a series of groundbreaking bills that seek to translate “lessons learned” from past tragedies into common sense policies that can improve school safety moving forward.

Scheffel joined Gov. John Hickenlooper Wednesday at a Longmont middle school, where another of those measures, House Bill-1063, was signed into law. It's one of two Cadman-Scheffel bills approved this session aimed at bridging communications gaps that can prevent the early detection and prevention of schoolhouse violence.

"What we’ve heard and seen repeatedly is that better information sharing among concerned parties might have prevented some of these tragedies, so this bill is all about improving that flow of potentially-lifesaving information while also protecting privacy and confidentiality," explained Scheffel. "This bill facilitates the flow of information by allowing a mental health profession, who is dealing with someone he or she believes is a significant threat, to go directly to a school and confidentially share that information."

Specifically, HB-1063 under narrow circumstances exempts mental health professionals from the prohibition on disclosure of client communications, if that client has made threats or exhibits behaviors that pose a significant threat to the health and safety of students or school personnel. Such disclosures will remain confidential and are restricted to appropriate parties in school districts or law enforcement agencies.

"Given Colorado’s unfortunate and tragic connection with school violence, it's important that we in the Statehouse keep a focus on making this state a national leader in combating this threat," added President Cadman. "We’ve made meaningful bipartisan strides in that direction during the last two legislative sessions and I fully expect that this important work will continue into the future."

Please contact Sean Paige at 719-337-0355 with any questions.

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