DeSantis signs bill addressing school safety in wake of Uvalde shooting

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a bill aimed at improving school safety in Florida following the Uvalde, Texas school shooting that left 21 people dead. 

The bill, known as HB 1421, takes several steps to prevent school shootings in the future including requiring school safety officers to make complete crisis intervention training, allowing school safety officers to make arrests on charter school property and requiring school districts annually certify that 80% of school personnel have received youth mental health awareness training.

“Every child needs a safe and secure learning environment,” DeSantis said in a press release. “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 bill also extends the sunset of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission which was enacted by Florida Republicans following a 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida that left 17 people dead. 

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at Miami's Freedom Tower, on Monday, May 9, 2022, in Miami. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at Miami’s Freedom Tower, on Monday, May 9, 2022, in Miami.  (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier, File)

“This legislation is a huge leap forward in school safety,” said State Board of Education Member Ryan Petty, who lost a child in the Parkland shooting, said. “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.”

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The signed legislation comes after 19 children and two teachers were killed in Uvalde, Texas when an 18-year-old gunman walked onto the campus of an elementary school and opened fire.

A banner hangs at a memorial outside Robb Elementary School on Friday, June 3.

A banner hangs at a memorial outside Robb Elementary School on Friday, June 3. (AP/Eric Gay)

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently directed the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center (ALERRT) at Texas State University to provide active shooter training to school districts across the state in the wake of the shooting.

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Additionally, Abbott called on the Texas legislature to form a committee to investigate the leadup and response to the shooting.

“As Texans mourn the tragedy that occurred at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde last week, we as a State must reassess the twin issues of school safety and mass violence,” the Texas Republican wrote to fellow Republicans Attorney General Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan last week. “As leaders, we must come together at this time to provide solutions to protect all Texans.”

TEXAS - UVALDE, MAY 27: Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks during a press conference about the mass shooting at Uvalde High School on May 27, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas. 

TEXAS – UVALDE, MAY 27: Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks during a press conference about the mass shooting at Uvalde High School on May 27, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas.  (Photo by Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

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Abbott asked the legislature to “review what steps previous legislatures have enacted” and “what resources the State has made available to local school districts” in addition to providing recommendations on how policies can be improved in the areas of “school safety, mental health, social media, police training, and firearm safety.”