Indiana Lawmakers Move Ahead With Boy Scouts Bill, Leave FAFSA, Teacher Gun Training Behind

Feb 25, 2020

Credit Lauren Chapman/IPB News

A proposal to require teachers who carry guns in school to receive specialized training is being scrapped, as a key lawmaker raises concerns the legislation is overly-specific.

The bill that would require specialized training for teachers whose districts allow them to carry guns in school passed the Senate earlier this month, but lawmakers are nearing the end of the legislative session and House Education Committee Chair Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis) says he won't offer the bill a hearing ahead of the committee deadline. 

Behning says the requirements in the bill were too narrow and would make it hard to access training.

"Because of the specificity it really may eliminate a lot of options in terms of providers," he says. "Perhaps the better way to approach it is to look at how we train our school resource officers."

A proposal in the Senate earlier this session would have enhanced training for police who work in schools, and require them to have school resource officer training outlined in state law. That bill failed to get enough support after some lawmakers took issue with limiting how many officers would be available to work in schools because of training restrictions.

The chairman is also not hearing a bill to require that every high schooler file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. But Behning says the FAFSA requirement will likely be moved into a different piece of legislation. 

Several bills moving through the House did make the cut off, including one with provisions designed to let groups like the Boy Scouts of America spend more time promoting themselves in Hoosier schools. 

Supporters say some districts deny Scout activities on school property to avoid legal challenges from other groups that may want similar access.

Senate Education Committee Chair Jeff Raatz (R-Centerville) supports the bill and says it's designed to give the Boy Scouts more opportunities to recruit students.

"To provide services to participants and allows access to students at least one time annually to participate in activities that would promote membership to their organization."

The bill originally would have forced schools to let patriotic youth organizations – as defined in federal law – access school buildings. Lawmakers in the House eased back on the proposal this week, so it would not become another statewide requirement.

The bill also says schools don't have to come to similar agreements with other organizations not included in the federal youth organization law, known as Title 36.

Contact Jeanie at jlindsa@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @jeanjeanielindz.