Florida Senators Back Ron Johnson’s Proposal to Create Federal Clearinghouse on School Safety

Florida’s two Republicans in the U.S. Senate–U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott–threw their support behind U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s, R-Wisc., proposal to create a Federal Clearinghouse on School Safety Best Practices.

Johnson, the chairman of the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, introduced the bill on Tuesday 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.”

“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,” Rubio said. “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.”

“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,” Scott said. “Today, 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.

The bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committees. So far, there is no version of the bill over in the U.S. House.

 

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

 

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