Conley Introduces Legislation to Protect Student Athletes

House Bill 1775 is officially known as “Riley’s Rule.” The name commemorates Riley Boatwright, a Lexington middle schooler who tragically passed away during a school football game in 2019.  Riley’s Rule, authored by Rep. Sherrie Conley, aims to establish additional safety precautions for student athletes participating in public school sporting events. Thus far, Riley’s Rule has received strong bipartisan support. After receiving unanimous consent from the House Common Education Committee, it passed the House general assembly 93-0.

Briefly, Riley’s Rule mandates that school districts collaborate with local emergency medical personnel to develop and establish an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) for all school sporting events, including daily practices. The EAP would require a school employee to be appointed as a medical administrator to help manage and aid in the implementation of the plan; other requirements of the EAP include providing accessible campus maps with appropriate emergency contact information, providing a list of on-site and available medical equipment —including the location of the nearest automated external defibrillator (if available), and defining responsibilities for all on-site staff. Additionally, the EAP would be publicly posted in the relevant athletic facility as well as shared with all school officials involved in the sporting event.

Riley’s Rule, however, is not Conley’s first legislative effort to protect student athletes. Last year, Conley authored what might be called the original version of Riley’s Rule, known as the Riley Boatwright Act. The original bill, which was authored at the request of the Boatwright family, mandated that school districts develop a general emergency plan for all school athletic events. The original bill was signed into law by Gov. Kevin Stitt in 2019.

“The legislation that passed last year was a request from Riley’s family,” Conley said. “It is something they wished had been in place when their son was playing football, but their hope is that this [law] will save the lives of other young people involved in athletics at their schools.”

Conley’s new bill, Riley’s Rule, adds to this existing law to ensure quality EAPs are developed and implemented in every school district in Oklahoma.

“We have emergency plans and practice them seasonally for fires, tornadoes and intruders,” Conley Said. “It only makes sense to have an emergency plan in place for our student athletes and those who attend school sporting events. This bill is meant to protect students by implementing such a plan and, potentially, save lives.”

Riley’s Rule will be considered in the Senate in the next few weeks. If passed and signed into law, Riley’s Rule would take effect prior to the 2021-2022 school year.

If you support Riley’s Rule, please reach out to your local senator to offer your support. And be sure to look out for POE’s upcoming survey to share your thoughts on Riley’s Rule as well as other important legislative matters.

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