Legislation putting panic alarms in schools ready for Governor’s signature

FLAPOL | Ryan Nicole | June 16, 2020

The legislation would enhance crisis response in schools.

Legislation requiring a mobile panic alert system in all public and charter schools is now ready for the Governor’s signature after being formally presented to Gov. Ron DeSantis Tuesday.

The Legislature approved the measure in early March, just days before the 2020 Legislative Session ended.

Sen. Lauren Book sponsored the bill (SB 70), which was passed more than two years after the 2018 attack at Broward County’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The panic alert system would be called “Alyssa’s Alert.” It’s named after Alyssa Alhadeff, one of 17 people murdered during the Stoneman Douglas shooting.

The House and Senate struggled on conflicting language between their respective bills during the closing process. Reps. Dan Daley and Michael Gottlieb were behind the House bill (HB 23).

The Senate version had pushed for a uniform mobile panic alert system that would be established via negotiations by the state.

But that mandate drew skepticism as the bill moved through the committee process. Several lawmakers raised questions as to whether that one-size-fits-all system was the best model going forward.

Ultimately, the House version prevailed. That language — which was pinned onto the Senate bill — does allow the state to negotiate a baseline system. However, schools were not required to adopt that system.

Instead, districts are free to pursue their own system, so long as it is “a mobile panic alert system capable of connecting diverse emergency services technologies to ensure real-time coordination between multiple first responder agencies.”

The system must also “integrate with local public safety answering point infrastructure to transmit 911 calls and mobile activations.”

For the state to set up a model system, the Department of Education must consult with the Division of Emergency Management, the Department of Law Enforcement and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission.

New Jersey passed a bill last year requiring panic alarms in public schools. Alhadeff also attended school in New Jersey before moving to South Florida.

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