State Education Department officials are in discussions with New York school superintendents, board of education leaders and public safety officials to determine the appropriate number of mandated school lockdown and active shooter drills, and policy to allow students to be opted out.

Legislation to change the number of annually required lockdown and active schooter drills from four to one, and require parents be notified of the exercise at least one week prior is expected to be a post-budget priority. The bill, which state senators passed last year, would also allow parents and guardians to opt their child out of drills.

"I don't know where the commissioner is on this right now and I do want to find out what she has found out and what is the feeling among the superintendents throughout the school districts in New York," Assembly Education Committee chair Michael Benedetto told Spectrum News 1.

Benedetto, a Bronx Democrat, chose not to advance the legislation through the Education Committee last year while awaiting thorough feedback from the state Education Department and concerns about making the changes too quickly.

SED does not have requirements or standards classifying improper active shooter training practices in New York schools — prompting the department to explore the idea with multiple stakeholders to discern the proper lockdown guidelines and protocols for students who do not participate.

Benedetto says he's eager for the department’s recommendations, but the work on the bill will be put on hold until the state budget is finalized in the coming weeks.

Sponsor Sen. Andrew Gounardes wants to see the bill clear the Assembly this year after stalling in the lower house.

"All we're doing is deeply traumatizing children and teachers and parents, for that matter, who have to see their kids simulate their own death four times a year in the classroom setting, which really is outrageous," said Gounardes, a Brooklyn Democrat.

New York's requirement that public school districts hold four lockdown and active shooter drills per year is an outlier compared to other U.S. states, with most completing one or two annually.

Lawmakers and parents continue to recount stories of students who were forced to urinate in containers in front of their classmates during lengthy drills, or young children who become upset or confused an active shooter is real.

Gounardes' legislation would require SED to create guidelines for drills reports of cap guns or fake weapons being used in some active shooter simulations.

"We never want any child to go through that they have this embarrassment due to the fact that it's just a pretend scenario," said Robert Murtfeld, a Brooklyn father of two. "It's not a real scenario."

Murtfeld, who has led the fight for the legislation, said the state law was changed in 2016 and modeled after emergency preparedness legislation that dates back to 1901 for first responders, and isn't appropriate for young children.

Lawmakers argue reform isn't about getting rid of the drills, but doing it in a way that equally protects students, teachers, staff and their mental health.

"Yes, 'We're trying to prepare you for the fact you might die in your school,'" Gounardes said. "It's heartbreaking to even think about that. And that's all we're trying to fix."

Lawmakers in California and Rhode Island have posed similar legislation and will consider changing guidelines and creating opt-out procedures for school safety and active shooter lockdown drills.

SED did not return requests for comment about the ongoing conversations. When the legislation was first introduced last April, SED officials said in a statement the department is working on better communication with school officials and school resource officers and working with schools to develop improved emergency response plans.