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'A Prayer Answered': Marshall County Parents Testify For School Safety Reforms

AP Photo/Robert Ray

The families of two Marshall County High School students who lost their lives to gun violence in 2018 are applauding the unanimous passage of Senate Bill 1 out of committee.

Just over a year ago, 15-year-olds Preston Cope and Bailey Holt were killed after a fellow student opened fire in the high school. Thursday, lawmakers on the Senate Standing Committee on Education heard raw testimony from those most closely affected, voting unanimously to deliver SB1, the chamber's top priority school safety bill, to the full Senate.

Preston's father, Brian Cope, called the decision a "prayer answered," and vowed to fight to his last breath to see reforms passed.

"We can't talk about it anymore. We've let a whole year go by," the grieving father told the media. "We have to do something now because it will happen again.... and let's try to prevent that."

Lawmakers, too, are feeling that sense of urgency.

Republican Sen. Max Wise, the bill sponsor, said new tweaks would reduce the load on school guidance counselors from 1,500 students to 250, and mandate they spend at least 60 percent of their time directly serving students.

"We feel like really they could be a first line within the school system," the Campbellsville senator explained. "They're able to reach out to those kids who needing help and assistance."

The bill aims to standardize school safety rules, bring in more armed guards and mental health professionals, and require some personnel to have annual active shooter training, among other provisions. It does not address funding. That piece would taken up next year.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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