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Hick signs two school safety bills

Two measures intended to improve school safety were signed Wednesday by Gov. John Hickenlooper.

The most notable of the two measures is the Claire Davis School Safety Act (Senate Bill 15-213), which is named for the victim of a 2013 shooting at Arapahoe High School. Her parents, Michael and Desiree Davis, attended the news conference, along with legislative sponsors.

The bill allows school districts and charters to be held liable if they fail to exercise reasonable care in protecting students, faculty, or staff from reasonably foreseeable acts of violence, specifically murder, first-degree assault and sexual assault.

There is a cap on damages, and districts have a two-year grace period before they could be sued. The bill also requires districts to provide information about incidents to families.

The original version of the bill worried school districts, although the two-year delay eased some concerns. The measure had wide support among lawmakers and was skillfully lobbied. Michael and Desiree Davis testified repeatedly in committees in support of the bill.

The governor also signed a companion measure, Senate Bill 15-214, which creates a 14-member School Safety and Youth Mental Health Committee to study those issues. That group, whose members are yet to be named, is expected to begin meeting later this summer.

Check the 2015 Education Bill Tracker for links to full bill texts and other information about the new laws, as well as about all education bills considered during the 2015 session.

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