Legislation Seeks DHS Grants for Schools
Representative Bob Etheridge (D-NC),according to North Carolina's News and Observer, will introduce legislation that will make the Department of Homeland Security responsible for integrating schools K - 12 into their response plans to terrorism and natural disasters.
Etheridge's legislation will:Explicitly say that schools are eligible for homeland security block grants.Create an office for school preparedness and response within the Department of Homeland Security.Offer a one-stop shop within the agency for schools to research best practices in response planning.
The representative says he wrote the bill after he took a local survey of schools in his district and found principals eager for federal help in disaster planning. His survey also tracks the feelings of school leaders nationwide, according to aJune 2007 Government Accountability Office reportwhich stated:
DHS program guidance for certain grants does not clearly identify school districts as entities to which state and local governments may disburse grant funds. Thus, states receiving DHS funding may not be aware that such funding could be allocated to school districts or schools.
The report recommended DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff clarify to state and local governments that school districts can receive homeland security block grants.