BREVARD COUNTY — On Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ desk sits an important piece of legislature to make our schools safer.
The Florida House and Senate have passed Alyssa’s Law, which would allow for the installation of mobile panic buttons in all K-12 schools.
The law was created by Lori Alhadeff, mother of 14-year-old Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Alyssa Alhadeff, who was killed along with 16 others in the Parkland shooting on Feb. 14, 2018.
Mrs. Alhadeff is now a Broward County School Board member and the founder of MakeOurSchoolsSafe.org, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering students and staff to create and maintain a culture of safety and vigilance in a secure school environment.
“I am so excited to see the hard work of my nonprofit Make Our Schools Safe be successful in passing Alyssa’s Law!” Mrs. Alhadeff said. “We still have a lot of work to do and will continue to stay focused on achieving our mission.
“Schools must approach safety in a holistic and integrated manner,” she continued. “That means building a Campus Response Team made up of a diverse group of school stakeholders who help build organizational resilience and are prepared to respond to any disruption the campus may face.”
Frandme Education has developed a mobile panic button app, which when a “Code Red” is activated, emits an audible alert and makes a phone call.
Debi Davis, COO of Frandme Education, explained that dispatch will receive two notifications and dispatches directly to the school it is associated. It will tell law enforcement who pushed the button, where it was pushed, and a GPS picture of where they are.
“Lori really was a proponent of rectifying a lot of the challenges that were experienced in Parkland,” Ms. Davis said.
The panic button would allow for a faster response from the police departments and lead to less confusion as to which precinct is associated with a particular school.
“Originally it was dispatched out of the wrong location and delayed something like 12-15 minutes for someone to respond to the school,” Ms. Davis said. “They were looking for an emergency system, a code red, that makes sense.”
This mobile app would connect administrators, teachers, students, parents and first responders to a private system that would provide real-time notifications and security alerts. Alerts can be displayed in different languages to communicate better with parents.
“Initially the system that was requested was similar to a fire panic button,” Ms. Davis said. “The amount of challenges associated with something like that where you don’t know who pushed the button, and most importantly, the amount of pranks would come out of a system like that with no accountability, would be astronomical.”
If passed in Florida, Alyssa’s Law would go into effect with the 2021-2022 school year. A similar law has been passed in New Jersey and another one is making its way through New York legislature.
This non-partisan bill will be funded with $8M, which according to Ms. Davis, is within the cost range for deploying and enabling mobile devices.
“If someone pushes a ‘Code Red’ it goes on to our system and says ‘Danger by Me’ notice,” Ms. Davis said. “If someone by room 2 hits ‘Danger by Me’ and then they run to the library, the person there hits ‘Danger by Me,’ the police are now tracking this person’s travel through the campus and know exactly where to go to get them.”
Police departments that have been working with Frandme Education have offered assistance by establishing a direct link with law enforcement.
“They could take over our communications system when an emergency takes place and actually send notifications to the closed echo system, so that people are not in the dark and scared,” Ms. Davis said.
Mrs. Alhadeff added, “We keep our schools safe through training, preparedness and communication. We have to have a layered approach from being proactive, See Something, Say Something to school hardening and more mental health services for all of our students.”
For more information, visit www.frandme.education and www.makeourschoolssafe.org.