Yesterday, Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law House Bill 1421: School Safety. HB 1421 was sponsored by Representative Fred Hawkins (R-St. Cloud) and Representative Christine Hunschofsky (D-Parkland).
In 2018, the “Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act” was passed to address school safety and security. It also established the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, which would, in addition to investigating system failures in the High School shooting, develop recommendations for system-wide improvements. The Commission is scheduled to sunset on July 1, 2023. However, House Bill 1421 allows the Commission to continue the work of monitoring the implementation of school safety legislation and evaluating the work of the Office of Safe Schools through July 1, 2026.
The legislation continues to improve the mental health training in our schools by requiring that safe-school officers who are sworn law enforcement officers must complete crisis intervention training, and that at least 80% of school personnel receive mandatory youth mental health awareness training. The bill also takes an important step in fixing the chaos that comes post-event by requiring all district school boards and charter school governing boards to adopt a plan for family reunification when K-12 public schools are closed or unexpectedly evacuated.
Representative Hawkins stated: “With the signing of this legislation Florida has made great strides in reinforcing and enhancing school safety throughout the entire state. I want to thank Governor Ron DeSantis and my fellow legislators who worked together to make this happen.”
Representative Hunschofsky stated: “In 2018, the Florida Legislature passed significant school safety legislation and has continued to show their commitment to making improvements where deficiencies are found. As the former Mayor of Parkland, I am pleased to work with Representative Hawkins and my colleagues to keep school and community safety a top priority in the Florida Legislature and will continue to work on legislation that keeps our students, faculty, staff, and families throughout Florida safe.”