State lawmaker who survived Columbine introduces bill aimed at preventing school violence

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- A state lawmaker believes a hotline can help prevent school violence.

State Rep. Kevin Parker is proposing a bill that will create a phone number that students can call to report any type of threat.

House Bill 2823 would essentially set up a hotline, allowing students to call a number 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to report any type of threat or potential shooting.

The hope is to stop school violence.

“I do believe this bill will stop school violence, in the way that this is a notification to school authorities,” said Parker, who represents the 6th Legislative District in the Spokane area.

The violence and terror of a mass shooting is something Parker knows all too well.  That’s because he survived the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado in 1999.

“I was meeting a student for lunch that day and that took me to the cafeteria on April 20. I literally got into the cafeteria about two minutes before everything started,” Parker said from his Olympia office.

Parker was there when seniors Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris gunned down 12 classmates and one teacher.

“My life was saved by Dave Sanders, the teacher who later lost his life and a janitor who took immediate command of the situation. They saved about 500 lives that day, mine was one of them,” added Parker.

The bill Parker has introduced is personal.

“It’s probably a little more emotional bill than others have been in the past,” said Parker.

Parents believe the measure would make students feel safer to come forward.

“I think that kids would be a lot more willing to speak up if they didn’t feel like they were going to be bullied or if they didn’t think their peer group was going to be mad at them,” said one parent.

“The people that are getting the information first are not authorities, they’re students, so we need to create a mechanism for them to communicate, that’s the purpose of this bill.”

Parker’s plan is based off the successful Safe2tell Program already in place in Colorado, born out of the Columbine shooting.

“It certainly is another tool you can use to in case that something bad is happening, if a student lets someone know, it sounds like a great idea to me,” said Chris Dekker, a parent from Tumwater.

Parker is hopeful this bill will pass, and if it does, the 24-hour student hotline could be in place in time for the next school year.