Governor DeSantis Signs School Safety Bill

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Trying to make our schools safer. Governor DeSantis signed into law several recommendations pushed by families who lost kids in the Parkland school shooting, those changes range from mental health training to rules for emergency drills. Briona Arradondo joining us now in the newsroom tonight and then I guess some of these are new but they are building on something already passed, is that right? Yeah that’s right Cynthia, this new law focuses on getting everyone all on the same page when an emergency happens and tonight, parents of students killed in Parkland school shooting tell us what this moment means to them.

Kids are out of school for the summer but the work to keep them safe keeps moving. (Tony Montalto, Father of Parkland shooting victim) “In each session, since the tragedy that took my daughter, 13 of her classmates and three of her teachers, Florida has continued to make progress through it each legislative session”. Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law house bill 1421 Tuesday to improve school safety, it follows recommendations from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school public safety commission.

(Ryan Petty, Father of Parkland shooting victim) “It all addresses an evolving threat, it all comes from lessons learned from Parkland.” Ryan Petty lost his daughter Alaina in the school massacre four years ago; he says the new law targets gaps in schools across Florida. “I don’t want any parent to take away from what I am saying today that our schools in Florida are 100% safe, they’re not, but we’ve learned a lot and we’re improving every day.” Now the state requires mental health crisis intervention training and for law-enforcement to be involved in active shooter drills.

Tony Montalto says another change was crucial too. “Finally, one that was very personal to our families that we testified about sadly, one we saw just this past month in Uvalde. is the need for a reunification plan.” Now every school district must have a plan to quickly reunite children and their parents during a crisis, some Tampa Bay school districts use Raptor Technologies. (David Rogers, Raptor Technologies, Chief Marketing Officer & Head of Public Affairs) “But also the key thing, practicing it, we all know that practicing is key and recently with Polk and the reunification event they ran, they really got a good dose of how this should operate.”

Even after three years of safety changes, Parkland families say there is still more to do. “It’s bittersweet, I am grateful for the effort that the legislature put through.” The new law also requires mental health awareness training for 80% of school staff and it deals with emergency drills for bomb threats and natural disasters. The Marjorie Stoneman Douglas high school public safety commission is also extended for another four years, and Parkland parents tells us that that allows them the chance to see what else can improve to protect students and staff at schools.