Florida Senators Continue to Support 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–continued to support U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s, R-Wisc., proposal to create a Federal Clearinghouse on School Safety Best Practices.

Johnson, who chaired U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee when the GOP controlled the chamber, first introduced the bill to create a clearinghouse “to help schools and their faculty, parents, and community officials identify school safety measures and resources for implementing them” back in November 2019.

When he brought out the bill, Johnson cited the 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.”

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.

Johnson brought the bill back last week and the Florida Republicans continued to back it.

“The Parkland shooting is a tragedy I will never forget, and I was proud of the work I was able to accomplish with the families and the previous administration to help ensure school districts have a reliable central authority, or clearinghouse, where evidence-based and successful models for school safety measures are available,” Rubio said. “I also led a bipartisan, bicameral effort urging the federal commission on school safety to include such a clearinghouse in their recommendations, which they ultimately did. This central point of information to improve school safety must be available to states and local education agencies, which is why I support codifying a Federal Clearinghouse on School Safety Best Practices to fulfill that need. Congress should act swiftly to pass this bill.”

“Nearly three years ago, we lost 17 innocent lives in the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida,” Scott said. “I think about those lives lost, and the families impacted, every day. Since that horrible day, I’ve worked closely with many of the victims’ family members as Governor and now as Senator to ensure no child, educator, or family has to experience that again. This legislation, the Luke and Alex School Safety Act, honors two of the victims, Luke Hoyer and Alex Schachter, and builds on our work to keep schools safe and prevent another tragedy. I will never stop working to protect our students and educators, and ensure they have a safe environment to learn and succeed.”

The bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committees.

 

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

 

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