Florida HB 1421: What Schools Need to Know About the School Safety Updates

Florida House Bill 1421 (HB 1421)

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Florida Office of Safe Schools announces major updates that address the need for Florida schools to develop reunification processes that integrate with technology.  

Passed after the Parkland school shooting, the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Act addresses school safety and security. The Act also established the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission (MSD Commission).  

In March 2022, the legislature approved updates to the 2018 Act to further improve Florida school safety. As of this writing, the bill is awaiting Governor Ron DeSantis’s signature. This blog summarizes the Florida school safety updates.  

What are the school safety updates to the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Act (MSDPSA)?

Florida school districts, superintendents, and public schools, including charter schools, are responsible for following the 2018 Act. The bill extends the MSD Commission until July 1, 2026, for the purpose of monitoring adoption and compliance of the requirements listed below. 

Florida School Reunification Plans 

School districts and chartering boards must create a family reunification plan for when/if the school evacuates or closes because of a school emergency. This reunification plan—as well as the school’s ability to respond to other school crises—will be part of the Florida Safe Schools Assessment, which makes sure schools have the appropriate safety controls. This plan must: 

  • Leverage information systems, such as student rosters and the day’s attendance record, that can help streamline the entire reunification process. 
  • Be developed in collaboration with the Division of Emergency Management, federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, fire and rescue agencies, and first responder agencies.  
  • Be reviewed annually and revised as needed.  

School Safety Drills 

There are updates to school safety drill mandates, including: 

  • Active assailant drills must be age and developmentally appropriate 
  • Law enforcement that will respond to an actual emergency on your campus must be directly involved in the active assailant drills, as determined necessary by the sheriff and district school safety specialist.  
  • The Board of Education is responsible for setting the timing and frequency of emergency drills and must adopt rules governing emergency drills by August 1, 2023. These rules must: 
    • Require that emergency drills be conducted at least once per year. 
    • Define “emergency drill,” “active threat,” and “after-action report” and provide requirements for drill policies and procedures by incident type, school level, school type, and student and school characteristics, including: 
      • timing 
      • frequency 
      • participation 
      • training 
      • notification 
      • accommodations 
      • response to threat situations 

Additional School Safety Updates for Florida 

The bill also requires: 

  • School districts annually certify, beginning July 1, 2023, that at least 80% of school staff received the mandatory youth mental health awareness training. 
  • Sworn, safe-school officers complete mental health crisis intervention training. Those that are not sworn law enforcement officers must receive training on incident response and de-escalation. 
  • School districts and local mobile response teams use the Department of Education’s suicide screening tool. 
  • School safety and environmental incident reporting data be published annually. 
  • The Commissioner of Education oversees and enforces safety and security compliance.

How Can Schools Comply with the Florida Office of Safe Schools’ Requirements?

Coordinating student status, location, and reunification with authorized guardians can be complicated. That’s just one reason why Florida has required schools to integrate technology into their school reunification plans. Raptor Reunification pulls data directly from your student information system (SIS) to put critical student and staff data at your fingertips. The MSD Commission described Seminole County Public Schools as a model district for other Florida schools to emulate—partially due to their use of Raptor Reunification in their reunification plan.  

Raptor Drill Manager enables schools to schedule drills and track compliance, quickly verify each building’s drill activity, and analyze reports to see what is working and where they need to improve performance. 

To learn more about Raptor and how we can help you comply, contact us today to schedule a personalized demo.