Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis signed a school safety bill on Tuesday intended to ensure the safety of every student in the Sunshine State.
The steps taken in HB 1421 build on legislation over the last three years to make schools safer and improve youth mental health, according to a statement from the governor’s office.
“Every child needs a safe and secure learning environment,” DeSantis said in a statement. “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.”
State Board of Education Member Ryan Petty also commented on the significance of the new safety law.
“This legislation is a huge leap forward in school safety,” Petty 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,” he added.
Tony Montalto, president of Stand with Parkland, also added his support for the newly signed law.
“Every parent deserves to know their child is safe at school,” Montalto noted. “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.”
Many of the provisions of the new law extend aspects of a 2019 effort signed by DeSantis to implement school safety recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission.
In the 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 Youth Mental Health awareness, and $50 million for school hardening grants to improve the security of school campuses.
The bill’s signing also follows a tragic shooting on May 30 at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 fourth-grade students and two teachers at the hands of an 18-year-old shooter. The tragedy has led to a national outcry for lawmakers to reduce gun violence.