By Sharon Aron Baron
The Florida House of Representatives unanimously passed House Bill 1421: School Safety Act on Thursday 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 and 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.
Although the Commission is scheduled to sunset on July 1, 2023, House Bill 1421 allows it to continue its work through July 1, 2026.
“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 enhance the mental health and school and community safety of our students, faculty, staff, and families throughout Florida,” said Rep. Hunschofsky.
The legislation continues to improve the mental health training in schools by requiring that safe-school officers that are sworn law enforcement officers must complete mental health intervention training and that at least 80% of school personnel receive mandatory youth mental health awareness training. The bill also takes an essential step in fixing the chaos that comes post-event by requiring the Office of Safe Schools to adopt a plan for family reunification when K-12 public schools are closed or unexpectedly evacuated.
Tony Montalto, President, Stand With Parkland and father of Gina Rose Montalto, is thankful that the Florida House has passed House Bill 1421, a comprehensive package of school safety legislation, and looks forward to the Florida Senate quickly following suit.
“We applaud House leadership and the efforts of Representative Hawkins, Representative Hunschofsky, and Chair Latvala to pass this bill and honor the memories of those murdered in the Parkland massacre,” said Montalto. “Florida is again leading the way in protecting schools.”
The bill will now be sent to the Florida Senate for a vote.
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- Sharon Aron Baron is a Parkland resident and editor of Talk Media. She has been covering Parkland news since 2012. Parkland Talk was created to provide News, Views, and Entertainment for the residents of Parkland.
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