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One day after approving funding, Governor signs ‘Alyssa’s Alert’ panic alarm bill

The measure will help install panic alarm systems in public and charter schools.

Just over two years after the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation requiring all public and charter schools to install mobile panic alert systems.

On Monday, DeSantis approved $8 million in funding to help schools set up the new alert systems, named after Alyssa Alhadeff, one of 17 people murdered during the 2018 attack in Parkland.

Sen. Lauren Book sponsored the bill (SB 70). Reps. Dan Daley and Michael Gottlieb backed the House version (HB 23).

“In the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, milliseconds mattered — and the lack of real-time coordination between first responders likely cost precious lives,” Book said Tuesday.

“After Lori Alhadeff’s daughter Alyssa was killed at MSD, Lori committed herself to memorializing Alyssa by protecting other children in ways her daughter was not. Thanks to Lori’s tireless advocacy, the creation of ‘Alyssa’s Alerts’ ensures children and educators across the state of Florida will be much safer in their classrooms. From one mother to another, I thank her for fighting for all of our children.”

The Senate bill, which the Governor signed Tuesday, requires the Department of Education (DOE) to set up a model panic alert system that can be used by public and charter schools. The alarm will be used to ensure school officials can contact nearby law enforcement quickly in the event of an emergency.

DOE officials will consult with counterparts at the Division of Emergency Management, the Department of Law Enforcement and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission to create the system.

While schools are required to install panic alarms, they do not have to adopt the DOE’s system. That issue was heavily debated during the legislative process, with lawmakers eventually agreeing to drop the mandate.

School districts may 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.”

Lawmakers approved the final language in SB 70 in March.

“I’m very proud to have sponsored this bill for Lori and Ilan Alhadeff,” Rep. Gottlieb said. “Their tragedy has given way to a unique way of providing security to our children and teachers. Our first responders will benefit from this new technology as well.”

Added Daley, “Now with the signing of this legislation and the full funding to support it, every school in Florida will be equipped with technology that will notify first responders in rapid time. This bill is one part of a larger effort to ensure that our schools are properly equipped to protect students during an active shooter situation.”

Democratic U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch also added a statement praising the bill’s passage. Deutch represents Florida’s 22nd Congressional District, which spans Parkland.

“I will never forget hearing Lori Alhadeff passionately call for action after her beautiful daughter Alyssa was killed at Stoneman Douglas High School,” Deutch said.

“I have seen the love she has for Alyssa through her tireless work to get Alyssa’s Law passed and signed, not only in Florida but in states around the country. I will continue to work with Lori and the other Parkland families to prevent school violence and to make Alyssa’s Law a part of a comprehensive strategy to save lives in school emergencies in every state.”

Lori Alhadeff posted a photo Tuesday morning celebrating the law’s passage. Alhadeff now represents District 4 on the Broward County School Board.

Written By

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to ryan.t.nicol@gmail.com.

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