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Improved School Safety Occupies State Legislators

This information is provided by the office of 28th District State Sen. and M. D. Joey Hensley, R-Hohewald, who represents Giles and five other area counties.

With the new school year underway, Gov. Bill Lee has announced efforts to enhance school safety.

The announcement follows a June executive order that directed state agencies to engage parents, increase transparency and collaborate with local law enforcement and school districts.

"I applaud the Governor’s efforts, some of which I’ll summarize below, and I’m confident they’ll enhance safety at Tennessee schools.," Hensley said.

More than 10,000 Tennesseans are using the SAFE TN app, a free resource to quickly and confidentially report safety concerns at a child’s school.

"I urge all parents to download the app, which saw a record 2,000 downloads in August, to take an active role in ensuring our schools are safe," Hensley said.

Each of 1,838 Tennessee schools has completed a physical school security assessment, and more than two-thirds of school districts have participated in school safety training.

Frequent, unannounced checks are prioritized to ensure school doors latch, precautions are in place, and every school district has received an updated School Safety Plan Template.

Proven, hands-on active shooter training courses are provided in each Grand Division, and updated training has been given to more than 600 School Resource Officers.

These are just a few efforts to enhance school security, and more are in the works. Tennessee parents and schools will soon have access to a new School Safety Resource and Engagement Guide, school districts will soon receive updated building security standards, and additional improvements to law enforcement recruitment and training efforts are coming.

Safety is the top priority at our schools, and it will certainly be enhanced by these and other recent actions.

"My colleagues and I in the Legislature will continue searching for ways to make our schools as safe and productive as possible, and I urge anyone with thoughts on the topic to reach out," he said.

"On a different topic, a new law has received media attention of late," he said.

Passed in 2021, the Tennessee Learning Loss Remediation and Student Acceleration Act requires school districts to offer additional academic support to third graders struggling to read.

One aspect of the law would require students to be retained in the third grade if they don’t test at grade level or above on the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) test.

This aspect of the law is intended to be the last resort in intervening for such students.

Interventions to help students struggling to read start as early as kindergarten when students are given a universal reading screener three times annually until they finish to get the student back on track along with access to additional instruction and tutoring.

If a student still scores “approaching” on the third grade English Language Arts portion of the student’s most recent TCAP test, they may still be promoted if they attend a learning loss bridge camp before the beginning of the upcoming school year or get a tutor through the Tennessee Accelerating Literacy and Learning Corps (TALLC) to provide the student with tutoring services for their fourth-grade year.

If a student scores “below” on their third grade ELA TCAP, they may still be promoted if they attend a learning loss bridge camp before the beginning of the upcoming school year and get a tutor through TALLC for their fourth-grade year. Students with disabilities, and students previously retained can be exempted from this retention requirement.

Hensley may be contacted at 425 Rep. John Lewis Way N., Suite 742, Nashville TN 37243 or called at 615-741-3100, or toll free at 1-800-449-8366 ext. 13100 or faxed at 615-253-0231.

His district address is 855 Summertown Highway, Hohenwald TN, 38462. His telephone number is 931-796-2018, his cell phone number is 931-212-8823 and E-mail:

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