Governor Ron DeSantis has signed HB 1421, intended to improve school safety in Florida by building on legislation over the last three years to implement the additional recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission to make schools safer and improve youth mental health in Florida.
Governor DeSantis also approved $140 million for mental health and $210 million for school safety, including school hardening grants and youth mental health awareness and assistance training.
“Every child needs a safe and secure learning environment,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “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.”
“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 will continue to do everything possible to make sure our schools meet the highest safety standards and that mental health issues associated with school violence are being addressed.”
HB 1421 does the following:
- Extends the sunset of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission;
- Authorizes the Commissioner of Education to enforce, rather than just oversee, school safety and security compliance;
- Authorizes safe school officers to make arrests on charter school property;
- Requires all safe school officers to complete crisis intervention and training to improve knowledge and skills for response and de-escalate incidents on school premises;
- Requires law enforcement officers to be present and involved in active assailant emergency drills;
- Requires school boards to adopt family reunification plans in the event of an evacuation; and
- Requires that school districts must annually certify that at least 80 percent of school personnel have received mandatory youth mental health awareness training.
In 2019, the Governor enacted legislation to implement school safety recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission and issued Executive Order 19-45 to require the Department of Education to communicate best practices for school safety to all school districts. In Fiscal Year 2019-2020, the Governor approved $317 million for school safety and mental health funding including:
- $180 million for the Safe Schools component of the FEFP;
- Over $80 million for Mental Health Assistance Allocation and for Youth Mental Health awareness; and
- $50 million for school hardening grants to improve security of school campuses.