Florida Delegation Rallies Behind Proposal to Create Federal Clearinghouse on School Safety

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s, R-Wisc., proposal to create a Federal Clearinghouse on School Safety Best Practices is getting strong support from the Florida delegation.

Johnson, the chairman of the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, introduced the bill earlier this month to create a clearinghouse “to help schools and their faculty, parents, and community officials identify school safety measures and resources for implementing them.”

When he brought out the bill, Johnson cited last year’s high school shooting in Parkland.

“Luke Hoyer, Alex Schachter, and 15 others lost their lives in a senseless act of violence in Parkland, Florida. Their parents, together with others who have lost loved ones in mass murders, have worked tirelessly to find nonpartisan, commonsense solutions to prevent or limit future tragedies,” Johnson said. “This bill honors the memory of all those who have needlessly lost their lives and is a proactive step to help mitigate this horrific violence.  I encourage all parents to ask what their child’s school is doing to protect their students and demand action if they believe their school isn’t doing these simple steps recommended by the Federal Clearinghouse on School Safety Best Practices.”

Johnson’s bill quickly garnered the support of the two Republicans representing Florida in the Senate.

“After the tragedy in Parkland, I was proud to work closely with the parents and families to help ensure school districts have a reliable central authority or clearinghouse where they can find evidence-based and successful models for school safety measures. I also led a bipartisan and bicameral effort to urge the federal commission on school safety to include such a clearinghouse in their recommendations, which they ultimately did. There is an immense need to make a central point of information available to states and local education agencies on ways to improve school safety, and creating a Federal Clearinghouse on School Safety Best Practices would fulfill that need,” said U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

“Congress should act swiftly to pass this bill, as well as my bipartisan Red Flag proposal and threat assessment legislation, both of which would help to prevent future senseless acts of violence,” Rubio added.

“Not a day goes by that I don’t think about the 17 souls that were taken from us in a brutal act of violence at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Following the tragedy, I worked with the families of the victims, including Max Schachter and Tom and Gena Hoyer, to pass the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act to make our schools safer and prevent future tragedies,” said U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla. “I’m proud to sponsor the Luke and Alex School Safety Act, which honors two of the victims, Luke Hoyer and Alex Schachter, and continues our efforts to keep our schools safe so no family ever has to experience a tragedy like this again.”

The bill would create the Clearinghouse on School Safety Best Practices which would be under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Clearinghouse would include “recommendations for comprehensive school safety measures, including threat prevention, preparedness, protection, mitigation, incident response, and recovery to improve the safety posture of a school upon implementation” and would “specify criteria for best practices and recommendations and a process for continuous improvement and updating of Clearinghouse so it remains relevant, easy to use, and does not become an enormous data bank wish list.”

The bill would also review various grants to find more funds to use on school safety programs. The proposal would also have the U.S. attorney general and the U.S. secretaries of Education, HHS and DHS “notify their respective counterparts at the state level and other relevant stakeholders, including parents, of the School Safety Clearinghouse” and include key state officials as part of the Clearinghouse.

While Johnson’s bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committees, the proposal is now before the U.S. House.

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., introduced the bill in the House on Thursday with U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., and U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, R-Fla., cosponsoring the proposal.

“The Luke and Alex School Safety Act honors Luke Hoyer, Alex Schachter, and the 15 others who tragically lost their lives as a result of a senseless, merciless act of violence in Parkland, Florida,” said Diaz-Balart. “This bill would, essentially, create a one-stop-shop for schools, families, and community officials to obtain valuable resources on school safety best practices. I would like to thank Alex’s father, Max Schachter, who has tirelessly advocated for this initiative and has been a champion in making our schools safer. I thank my colleagues for joining me in introducing this important, bipartisan legislation, and I look forward to it swiftly reaching the President’s desk.”

“Max Schachter, Tom and Gena Hoyer, and the other families of the victims of the Stoneman Douglas tragedy have turned the painful loss of their loved ones into action to help others avoid that same loss,” said Deutch. They have become national leaders in the quest to keep our children safe from gun violence in their schools. Their support has been integral in developing effective policies to prevent gun violence. Parents should not have to worry whether their kids will return home safely to them after school. This bipartisan and bicameral bill builds on the work of Parkland parents by requiring a dedicated home within the federal government for school security best practices and guidance that will help prevent gun violence and save lives in schools across the country.”

“As administrators, students, parents, and local law enforcement collaborate to make schools across our country safer, it is important that they have easy access to the most accurate and up-to-date information on how best to do so,” said Rutherford. “The Luke and Alex School Safety Act will centralize the latest school safety research, best practices, and grant opportunities, and make them accessible to every school district across America. Thank you to Representatives Diaz-Balart, Deutch, and Murphy for their commitment to protecting our students in school.”

“As a mom, I know that Congress has no obligation more solemn than protecting our children,” said Murphy. “That’s why I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing the bipartisan Luke and Alex School Safety Act to ensure that schools in Florida and across the country can obtain the resources and information they need to help keep our students safe.”

Diaz-Balart’s bill was sent to the U.S. House Education and Labor and the Judiciary Committees on Thursday.


Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.


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