From the Office of State Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 16, 2006
CONTACT: Melissa del Bosque (512) 463-0120, cell (512) 947-4046

SEN. HINOJOSA FILES BILLS TO MAKE PUBLIC SCHOOLS SAFER

STRICT DATING VIOLENCE POLICIES, AVAILABLE DEFIBRILLATORS TO PROTECT CHILDREN

(McALLEN) -- Laying out another part of his comprehensive legislative agenda for working families, State Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa today filed legislation that will help make public schools safer by requiring strict new policies to protect students from dating violence and guaranteeing that all school districts have defibrillator devices on hand at University Interscholastic League (UIL) sporting events to revive student athletes who suffer sudden cardiac arrest.

“Parents want to know that their children are safe when they leave for school each day,” Sen. Hinojosa said. “These common-sense measures will help us protect our children at school and school-sponsored events.”

Sen. Hinojosa’s bill, SB 86, instructs public schools districts to develop dating violence policies to combat the intentional use of physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional abuse. These policies would include safety planning, enforcement of protective orders, training for teachers and administrators, counseling for students, and general awareness campaigns to reduce the number of incidents involving some form of dating violence.

“The statistics are alarming,” Sen. Hinojosa said. “More than 40 percent of teen girls and boys have been the victims of abuse occurring on school grounds. That’s unacceptable, and we owe it to these kids and their families to put an end to it.”

A second bill by Hinojosa, SB 87, also calls for public school districts to have an automated external defibrillator available on each campus and at UIL athletic events. A similar measure failed to pass in the last regular legislative session. Since then, several high profile incidents in which student athletes have collapsed during training exercises have brought increased attention to the issue.

Under Sen. Hinojosa’s bill, school districts would be allowed to accept gifts, grants, or equipment donations to comply, and the legislation would not apply to sporting events where emergency medical personnel are present under existing contracts with school districts.

“This is a unique opportunity for responsible corporate citizens and community leaders to help us make our schools safer for all students,” Sen. Hinojosa said.

Sen. Hinojosa’s school-safety bills are part of the Senator's legislative agenda for the regular session of the Texas Legislature, which convenes in early January. That agenda also includes a three-year moratorium on rising college tuition rates, increased homestead exemptions for local taxpayers, juvenile justice reforms, and a measure to help restore balance and integrity in the state’s campaign finance laws.

Sen. Hinojosa said he will unveil additional elements of his legislative agenda for families in the days ahead.

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