Florida Congressmen Want Local Schools to Keep Parents in the Loop on School Threats

This week, two Democrats in the Florida delegation–U.S. Reps. Charlie Crist and Ted Deutch–championed the “Parents Need to Know Act” which, they insist, will “counter the nationwide rise of gun violence and shootings in schools by requiring schools to inform parents about threats and risks to their children while at school.”

“Far too many school shootings could have been prevented if proactive measures were in place to identify and act on warning signs,” said Crist on Monday. “We need to do everything we can to prevent these acts of violence and make schools safe for our children – and that starts by keeping parents informed. Colleges and universities that receive federal aid are already required to inform students of dangers on campus. Why aren’t we providing this same information to the parents of our nation’s youngest students? Our bill will do just that, helping to make students safer everywhere.”

“When we lost 17 teenagers and teachers in our community, the state of Florida took important first steps to prevent future tragedies. In many ways, including parental notification requirements, our state led the way, and inspired other states to take their own steps to keep kids safe at school,” said Deutch who is retiring from Congress this year to take over the leadership of the American Jewish Committee (AJC). “But that momentum is not enough. We need to keep moving forward—not only on a state-by-state basis, but on a federal level here in Congress. Providing parents with timely information about credible threats to their child’s safety is one more step toward keeping all our kids safe from school shootings and other dangers. Let’s pass the Parents Need to Know Act, and let’s make sure we never again have critical information just moments too late.”

“My daughter Gina Montalto was murdered in the tragic and preventable Parkland massacre. I know firsthand the heartache families across our nation have felt when they send their kids to school and they never return,” said Tony Montalto, the President of Stand With Parkland–the National Association of Families for Safe Schools “The Parents Need to Know bill will provide information to families so they can better protect their children and help create an additional layer of safety when a threat is discovered at our country’s schools. I implore members of Congress to act swiftly and vote to protect our nation’s children.”

Crist’s office offered some of the reasons why he and Deutch were backing the bill.

“In 2019, the National Threat Assessment Center found that nearly every school attacker in cases from 2008-2017 communicated their intent beforehand, and that in nearly two thirds of cases, police discovered communications of intent that were not acted on by a student, parent, teacher, or administrator. The Parents Need to Know Act requires local education agencies to establish procedures for providing timely notifications to parents when schools are aware of certain threats of unlawful acts or other significant emergencies that occur on school grounds, during school transportation, or during school-sponsored activities. These incidences include: homicide or accidental death, rape and sexual assault, aggravated assault, arson, possession or use of a firearm, and manmade or natural emergencies,” Crist’s office noted. “Parental notifications are already required in Florida following the tragedy that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Highschool on February 14, 2018. Federal enactment of this requirement means that no family will suffer the same tragedy as the parents of Parkland, FL, who learned about the advance warnings and signs too late to act on them.”

Kevin Derby
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