New Florida law aims to strengthen school safety

Posted at 11:19 AM, Jun 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-07 12:16:43-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida's governor on Tuesday signed into a law a sweeping measure designed to strengthen school safety.

Among several things, HB 1421 most notably requires all school police officers to take crisis intervention and training, requires law enforcement officers to be present and involved in school active shooter drills, and requires school boards to adopt family reunification plans in the event of an evacuation.

The measure also extends the use of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, created in the wake of the 2018 deadly mass shooting in Parkland.

"Every child needs a safe and secure learning environment," Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a written statement. "By signing HB 1421, we continue to build on the many steps we have taken since 2019 to implement the recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission, while also making record investments in mental health and school safety."

This year's Freedom First Budget in Florida includes a record $140 million for mental health and $210 million for school safety, including school hardening grants and youth mental health awareness and assistance training.

Parents of Parkland victims have now secured five consecutive years of school safety reform. They considered this bill another step in the right direction.

"The only way we can protect our children and our teachers at school is by coming together and actually looking for solutions. We've done that here in Florida," said Tony Montalto, the president of Stand With Parkland.

HB 1421 was unanimously approved by the Florida legislature earlier this year.

Yet some Democrats believe more needs to be done. A handful of the lawmakers have called for universal background checks and expanded red flag laws.

They’ve also condemned DeSantis for vowing to sign a constitutional carry bill before he leaves office.