The Florida Legislature passed HB 1421 which updates and provides additional provisions to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act originally passed in 2018. The bill went through without a single “no” vote from either legislative chamber.
The bill’s additions clarify expectations for public and charter schools and will institute updated training for school officers.
“The bill strengthens school safety oversight by providing enhanced state-level authority over school safety requirements,” said Florida State Sen. Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota), who sponsored the Senate version of the legislation.
According to the text of the bill, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, which also received an extension until 2026, will “monitor implementation of school safety legislation by” a number of additional measures including: “Evaluating the activities of the Office of Safe schools to provide guidance for school districts,” “Reviewing the findings of the Auditor General regarding school district safety policies and procedures,” and “Assessing efforts by local governments to improve communication and coordination among regional emergency communication systems.”
Another provision in the new additional legislation will require the Florida State Board of Education to determine the timing and frequency of emergency drills.
One of the issues that families of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting and tragedy faced were the delayed inability for parents to be reunited with their children in the aftermath of the event.
To mitigate the issue, the legislation also requires the districts and charter schools to develop a plan to reunite families.
“Each district school board and charter school governing board shall adopt, in coordination with local law enforcement agencies and local governments, a family reunification plan to reunite students and employees with their families in the event that a school is closed or unexpectedly evacuated due to a natural or manmade disaster. This reunification plan must be reviewed annually and updated, as applicable.”
The original legislation also took aim at firearm policy by raising the purchasing age for long guns from 18 to 21 and also implementing Red Flag laws in Florida. This amendatory legislation does not address firearms.
The bill has been sent to the desk of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and is awaiting signature.
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Grant Holcomb is a reporter at The Florida Capital Star and The Star News Network. Follow Grant on Twitter and direct message tips.
Photo “Joe Gruters” by Joe Gruters. Background Photo “Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School” by Coral Springs Talk. CC BY 2.0.