Michigan House Republicans
COLUMN: Additional school safety procedures will protect children, provide parents with transparency
RELEASE|March 11, 2024

Note: The following column was published in the Detroit News on Wednesday, March 6

As a mother who has lost a child, I know the immense pain and hurt – along with the determination to honor them forever.

I’m proud to stand with a member of one of our communities that I represent in the Michigan House as she pushes for needed reforms that will keep our kids safe at school facilities and give parents more transparency as they evaluate what is best for their child as they learn and grow.

Tabitha Kerr’s daughter, Lilliana, was tragically killed at the age of 3 after an improperly secured folding table fell and struck her at a Wayne County Head Start program in 2017. The 350-pound table was a recalled version that should have been removed years earlier but wasn’t, and there was no mechanism to identify that it was outdated and ensure it was removed.

A similar incident occurred in the Upper Peninsula two years prior, when a 4-year-old girl was killed by an unsecured partition that fell in a high school gymnasium.

I recently introduced House Bills 5530-31 to help shore up gaps and prevent tragedies like these from occurring in the future. “Lilliana’s Law” and the “Never Again Law” will establish a death and injury registry that tracks incidents at school facilities and what caused them and require the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to inspect all public and private schools for health and safety violations annually.

The inspection proposal allows for 14 days for a facility to report findings back to DHHS from when an inspection took place, along with a notice of any violations so work can take place to correct hazardous environments for children. Corrective work does not need to be completed or bid out by the end of the 14-day window, allowing for a practical and reasonable timeline for school facilities and districts to implement changes.

Tabitha has been courageously advocating for these changes for years – not only because Lilliana was failed, but to ensure other children don’t experience traumatic injury or death and other parents don’t endure the same horror and loss she did.

In past legislative terms, this plan garnered pushback for being an unfunded mandate. Michigan is spending record amounts on its education budget, including over $24 billion for the current fiscal year. This is an issue of priorities, not the state’s pocketbook.

As parents, we make sure things are safe when we have young children. We read up on defective toys or car seats. We make sure potential choking hazards are picked up off the floor and gates are up in doorways or stairways to prevent entrance to dangerous areas. Shouldn’t we approach our school facilities – where children spend most of their day for a large chunk of the year – in a similar fashion?

I am hopeful in the months ahead in the Legislature, we can work to protect our children and give parents peace of mind when they drop their kids off at school each day. Ensuring additional safety measures through “Lilliana’s Law” and the “Never Again Law” is a needed step for our families and the state.

Michigan House Republicans

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