This article originally appeared in PR Newswire. To view the original article, click here.
House Bill 1421 Requires Florida School Districts to Standardize Reunification Plans, Connect to Student Information Systems, and work with First Responders and Local Governments
HOUSTON, June 7, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Raptor Technologies (“Raptor”), the U.S. leader in school safety software, announced today that, with Gov. Ron DeSantis’s signature of Florida House Bill 1421, Florida schools will be required to have a family reunification plan to reunite students with guardians after a school emergency. The plan must include enhanced collaboration protocols with first responders and local governments that utilize student information to help increase reunification accuracy and speed. Raptor currently provides advanced Raptor® Reunification software to several Florida districts, including Baker, Citrus, Calhoun, Charlotte, Duval, Gadsden, Hamilton, Hardee, Holmes, Indian River, Lake, Manatee, Marion, Nassau, Palm Beach, Polk, Sarasota, Seminole, Sumter and Washington.
The bill requires that each district school board and charter school governing board adopt a family reunification plan in coordination with local law enforcement agencies and local governments. These boards can leverage the model plan that the Florida Office of School Safety (OSS) will develop with the Division of Emergency Management and other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, fire and rescue agencies, first-responder agencies and local governments. The model reunification plan now requires integrating student information and notification systems to facilitate the overall reunification process. Additionally, through its annual review process, the OSS must now confirm each school district’s compliance with the law.
“Raptor congratulates Rep. Fred Hawkins for this impactful bill and the Florida legislature for unanimously passing this critical legislation,” stated Gray Hall, chief executive officer for Raptor Technologies. “Parents want to be reunited with their children as quickly as possible following a school emergency. Having a model plan in place that brings in the key elements of real-time student information and is built in coordination with first responders and the community goes a long way to making this happen.”
Raptor provides technology that meets and exceeds the requirements of the new law. Enabling schools to reunite families four times faster than traditional processes, Raptor Reunification software gives school districts the power to streamline and manage reunification in one easy-to-use application that works on any device.
As student guardians come to pick up their child(ren), schools can confidently know where the child is located or if they’re injured or missing in real-time. By linking to the school’s student information system, in compliance with HB 1421, schools can ensure they are releasing students to authorized guardians by confirming their identity and even custody rights. This helps prevent parental abductions and human trafficking. First responders, administrators and incident commanders can make informed decisions quickly, as all data updates in real-time throughout the emergency in easy-to-use dashboards.
Finally, the Raptor application automatically creates summary reports with a detailed history of the entire reunification process for better after-incident debriefs. Raptor’s implementation experts work closely with districts to build a customized execution plan and train staff, public safety officials and end-users, often resulting in a live community-wide reunification event like the one recently hosted at Polk County in April 2022.
“Emergencies can happen on any campus at any time, so we’re always searching for ways to improve our safety plans,” said Capt. Jill Seymour, director of Safe Schools for Polk County Public Schools. “Evacuating students to a safe location is just one part of dealing with many emergencies. Keeping track of students and getting them reunited with their families represents the next big challenge. Raptor’s reunification system includes an easy-to-use app that streamlines this process, eliminating paperwork and improving communication among those responding to the emergency. Our initial drills with this technology have been favorable, and Raptor has been quick to make modifications to suit our needs.”
“HB 1421 reinforces how a multi-faceted reunification plan is an important part of each school’s overall safety strategy,” stated Darren Norris, school safety specialist for Sumter County Schools. “Sumter County has taken a proactive approach to reunification by coordinating with local first responders and community leaders. We’ve also implemented Raptor’s reunification technology to create a more reliable and effective process for reuniting children with their guardians after an emergency. Raptor continues to be a key partner and is enabling us to build a reunification program that will exceed the requirements of this new law.”
Founded in 2002, Raptor has partnered with over 50,000 schools globally, including over 5,000 K-12 US school districts, to provide integrated visitor, volunteer, emergency management, and safeguarding software and services that cover the complete spectrum of school and student safety. To learn more about Raptor Technologies, visit www.raptortech.com.