Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) signed a school safety bill Tuesday that the Florida Legislature passed during its Special Legislative Session. The bill is built off of the recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission designed to make schools safer and offer resources to students and school employees.
DeSantis signed the bill on the heels of the Florida Freedom First budget, which designated over $140 million for mental health and approximately $210 million for school safety.
“Every child needs a safe and secure learning environment,” said DeSantis. “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.”
The legislation offers numerous school safety provisions: it extends the sunset of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission; authorizes safe school officers to make arrests on charter school property; requires law enforcement officers to be present and involved in active assailant emergency drills; and requires school boards to adopt family reunification plans in the event of an evacuation.
DeSantis signed the bill with no fanfare, meaning no official press conference, but DeSantis offered comments regarding school safety last week lauding the increases in school safety funding.
“If you look at our budget … we had another major increase in funding for school safety and for mental health and, you know, when you’re talking about school security, the thing is, is for whatever reason – I think going back to Columbine – this has become something where these deranged psychopaths have certain targets and some of them go to schools as a way to kind of maximize the trauma to a community,” DeSantis said last week.
Stand with Parkland, a nonprofit collective of parents and spouses of the victims of the Parkland school shooting tragedy, offered its support for the legislation and thanked DeSantis and the Florida Legislature for their efforts.
“Every parent deserves to know their child is safe at school,” said Tony Montalto, President of Stand with Parkland. “This new law, which passed unanimously through the Florida Legislature, is an important next step in providing school safety assurances to families and students. Florida will continue to do everything possible to make sure our schools meet the highest safety standards and that mental health issues associated with school violence are being addressed.”
Ryan Petty, a State Board of Education Member and father of a child who lost their life in the Parkland shooting, offered his thanks to DeSantis, as well.
“This legislation is a huge leap forward in school safety,” State Board of Education Member Ryan Petty, who lost a child in the Parkland shooting, said. “I want to thank Governor DeSantis for his bold leadership on this most fundamental issue. Nothing is more important than providing safe and secure learning environments for our children and educators. Extending the Commission’s work and requiring mental health and de-escalation training for safe-school officers will make a major difference in mitigating the risk of a future tragedy.”
– – –