Stand With Parkland called for a Special Session after lawmakers failed to pass a school safety bill this year.
“We cannot overstate how stunned and frustrated we are to learn that our representatives failed to pass the school safety bill,” said Stand with Parkland President Tony Montalto. “It had overwhelming bipartisan support and represented the recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission created to assist Florida’s legislators to make needed changes in the wake of tragic murder of our loved ones.”
Stand With Parkland was formed by parents and family of victims of the shooting; Montalto’s 14-year-old daughter Gina Rose Montalto died in the attack. The organization has grown to a national level, and advocates for school safety measures.
The legislation was to be the third piece of legislation passed in as many years regarding improvements in school security.
“This bill also included recommendations from the Grand Jury looking into failures within our state’s school districts,” Montalvo said.
“Florida legislators failed our students, who next year will be less safe than they could and should be. Stand with Parkland has applauded their efforts over the past two years, but this failure is inexcusable.”
The organization said Gov. Ron DeSantis should call a Special Session narrowly focused on passing the “critical legislation recommended after hundreds of hours of expert testimony and presentations on making our schools safer was heard. “
It seemed like coronavirus and a ticking clock were to blame for the bill’s failure to pass. House Speaker José Oliva expressed surprise the measure didn’t pass. But the Senate and House ultimately could not agree on final language.
“I’m wondering a little bit about what happened,” Oliva said. “President [Bill] Galvano and I ran the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Bill.”
Key unresolved differences between both houses’ proposals remained unsettled as the bill bounced back and forth starting with just over an hour to go. Oliva feared the Senate measure created unintended consequences, and in particular, he wanted to keep the Guardian program tight to the original language.
“When I took the gavel, I said, ‘Senators, we need to be willing to walk away if we don’t feel like it’s at the right point.’ Obviously, the House had a different approach to it which we didn’t concur with, and we’ll go from there,” Galvano said.
Renzo Downey contributed to this report.