Do you think military veterans would make good school security guards? State Sen. Jim Beach thinks so. He's sponsoring a bill to establish a pilot program to train veterans and put them in school security positions.

A new bill could give military veterans jobs as school security officers.
A new bill could give military veterans jobs as school security officers.

"They're well-trained," said Beach, D-Cherry Hill. "We certainly need school security. We need to really focus on school security. There's nothing more important than the safety of our children."

A school district that wants to participate in the pilot program can submit an application to the state Department of Education commissioner. The commissioner will pick up to 12 school districts from the northern, central and southern regions of the state for participation in the pilot program.

In selecting the districts, the commissioner will consider the security needs of the district as reflected in the data reported in the commissioner's annual report on Violence, Vandalism and Substance Abuse. The report provides annual statistics on categories including violence, vandalism and harassment as well as intimidation and bullying in the state's public schools.

There are some concerns about the possibility of placing veterans battling post-traumatic stress disorder into school security positions. Beach said that situation has already been addressed under current law, and prospective security personnel will screened prior to employment.

"The whole screening process will help," Beach said.

The bill also directs the education commissioner to submit a report to the governor and the legislature three years following the establishment of the pilot program. The report would contain information on the implementation of the pilot program and the effectiveness of veterans on school safety and security. It would also contain the recommendations of the commissioner and Attorney General on the advisability of continuing, expanding, or modifying the program.

The legislation has passed the full state Senate and awaits a vote in the Assembly.

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