School panic alarms get backing in Florida Senate

A file image shows row of lockers at a high school. (Photo by James Leynse/Corbis via Getty Images)

With the bill named after one of the victims in the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, a Senate panel on Tuesday approved a measure that would require public schools to have a “panic alert” system.

The Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee moved forward with the proposal (SB 70), sponsored by Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation. It is named “Alyssa’s Law,” after 14-year-old Alyssa Alhadeff, who was one of 17 people killed in the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting at the Parkland school.

The bill would require the mobile alert system to be in every public school starting in the 2021-2022 academic year. It would direct the Department of Education to contract for a statewide system, with supporters saying that school districts would be able to add other technology.

The system would be designed to help provide “real-time coordination between multiple first responders” during emergency situations, according to the bill.

“In an active-shooter situation, it’s not seconds that count, it’s nanoseconds,” Book said.

The House Education Committee is slated Wednesday to consider the House version of the bill (HB 23), sponsored by Rep. Mike Gottlieb, D-Davie, and Rep. Dan Daley, D-Coral Springs. The Senate bill is expected to go to the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.