The Governor signed House Bill 193 into law and revises last year’s effort to improve school safety. Representative Bacala’s measure revises procedures relative to students investigated for making threats of violence or terrorism.
Present law provides relative to a student reported to a law enforcement agency for a threat of violence or terrorism, and provides for a judicial hearing on whether the student should undergo a mental health evaluation. The current law requires that the student shall not be permitted to return to school until undergoing a formal mental health evaluation.
The changes passed and signed by the Governor instead instruct authorities that a student who is the subject of a complaint and investigation shall be permitted to return to school by the school administration if at any point prior to a hearing the threat is determined not to be credible by the school administration, law enforcement agency, or district attorney or by order of the court after a hearing.
While present law requires the law enforcement agency file a petition with the appropriate judicial district court for a mental health evaluation, the new law instead says that if the law enforcement agency determines that the threat is credible and imminent, it shall report it to the district attorney, who may file such a petition not later than seven days after receiving such report. It requires that a student be permitted to return to school if the district attorney decides not to file a petition or does not do so within that time period.
The new law defines that a “credible and imminent” threat means that the available facts, when viewed in light of surrounding circumstances, would cause a reasonable person to believe that the person communicating the threat actually intends to carry out the threat in the near future or has the apparent ability to carry out the threat in the near future.
Another revision passed by the Senate was to prescribe a 7day time limit on the district attorney’s authority to file a petition for the examination of a student who makes a threat and add a requirement that the student be allowed to return to school if the district attorney decides not to file a petition or does not do so within that time period.
The law now is “If a law enforcement agency, based on its investigation as required by R.S. 17:409.4(B)(1), determines that a student’s threat is credible and imminent, it shall report it to the district attorney, who may file a petition no later than seven days after receiving such report with the appropriate judicial district court for medical, psychological, and psychiatric examination as outlined in this Subsection.”