DeSantis Receives School Safety Bill Addressing Emergency Drills and Mental Health

May 27, 2022 Updated 11:55 AM ET

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May 27, 2022 Updated 11:55 A.M. ET

TALLAHASSEE (FLV) – Gov. Ron DeSantis received a bill this week that intends to improve school safety regulations and require schools put into place clearer plans for times of crisis. 

Florida lawmakers approved the bill (H.B. 1421) earlier this year. It landed on DeSantis’ desk at a time when people are mourning the lives lost in the Texas elementary school shooting. 

Florida lawmakers in 2018 passed the “Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act.” H.B. 1421 provides some clarity and transparency around school safety.

The bill requires schools adopt a family reunification plan for when K-12 schools are closed or evacuated. It also requires the State Board of Education to adopt requirements for emergency drills including timing, frequency, participation, and notification. 

If signed into law, law enforcement officials would be responsible for responding to schools if an assailant emergency is physically present. Officials would also need to participate in active assailant drills. 

School safety and environmental incident reporting data would need to be published annually. At least 80 percent of school staff would be required to receive mandatory youth mental health awareness training.

Sworn law enforcement officials who are safe-school officers would also need to complete mental health crisis intervention training. Safe-school officers who are not sworn law enforcement officers would need training on incident response and de-escalation. 

The bill also extends the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission until July 1st, 2026 to make sure school safety legislation is implemented. 

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