Bill to put panic alarms in Florida schools back on fast track

Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Cap News) – Every classroom in Florida would be required to install a mobile panic button by the beginning of the 2021 school year under legislation that’s gaining momentum in Tallahassee.

That momentum is coming from a grieving mother, Lori Alhadeff. Her daughter, 14-year-old Alyssa Alhadeff, was one of the first students killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

In the two years since the tragic mass shooting, Alhadeff has been the driving force behind the effort to install panic alarms in every classroom.

“Test scores will not matter if our children do not come home alive,” she said.

For the last 90 days, a mobile app system has been undergoing tests at schools in the State Capitol.

“Once they depress this app, it marks their location and initiates a 911 call,” Chief of Leon County Schools John Hunkiar explained. “One of the identified failures at Stoneman Douglas, which was the time it took for that information to get through two 911 centers, we would have already initiated a response.”

The legislation named Alyssa’s Law cleared a big hurdle Tuesday.

Alhadeff believes if it was in effect at the time of the Parkland shooting, her daughter may still be alive.

“Absolutely. Lives would have been saved that day. They would have had time to know where to go to get out of the line of vision of the door. Definitely on the third floor, lives would have been saved,” Alhadeff said.

The legislation initially called for panic buttons to be hard-wired in every school, but the cost was $280 million statewide. With the app, it’s $8 million.

And it’s the cost reduction that’s gotten the legislation back on the fast track.

The Department of Law Enforcement will assist with the app’s development.

The bill has two more hearings this week. A vote by the full House and Senate could come as early as next week.

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