DeSantis Signs School Safety Bill Addressing Mental Health, Emergency Drills: ‘A Huge Leap Forward’

June 7, 2022 Updated 11:26 AM ET

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June 7, 2022 Updated 11:26 A.M. ET

TALLAHASSEE (FLV) – Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation (H.B. 1421) Monday that aims to improve school safety regulations and require schools put into place clearer plans for times of crisis. 

The new law implemented recommendations from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission to improve youth mental health and keep schools secure. The commission was created in 2019 after the Parkland shooting. 

“Every child needs a safe and secure learning environment,” DeSantis said. “By signing HB 1421, we continue to build on the many steps we have taken since 2019 to implement the recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission, while also making record investments in mental health and school safety.”

The law 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. 

The law explains that 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. Safe school officers now have the authority to make arrests on charter school property.

At least 80 percent of school staff would also be required to receive mandatory youth mental health awareness training.

“This legislation is a huge leap forward in school safety,” said State Board of Education Member Ryan Petty. “I want to thank Governor DeSantis for his bold leadership on this most fundamental issue. Nothing is more important than providing safe and secure learning environments for our children and educators.”

“Extending the Commission’s work and requiring mental health and de-escalation training for safe-school officers will make a major difference in mitigating the risk of a future tragedy.”

In the budget, Governor DeSantis also approved a record $140 million for mental health and $210 million for school safety. It includes grants to harden schools and provide training in youth mental health awareness.

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“Every parent deserves to know their child is safe at school,” said Tony Montalto, President of Stand with Parkland. “This new law, which passed unanimously through the Florida Legislature, is an important next step in providing school safety assurances to families and students.”

Florida has taken previous steps to secure schools since the shooting in Parkland. 

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In 2021, the Governor signed legislation requiring school administrators to gather data on involuntary examinations, required school safety officers to receive mental health training, and required schools to give timely notification of threats. 

In 2020, Florida lawmakers passed “Alyssa’s Law” that requires funding and the implementation of a panic alert system. 

In 2019, the Governor enacted school safety recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission. 

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