Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel
Published March 16, 2020
New steps toward enhanced school safety measures ran out
of time in the Florida Legislature.
State lawmakers struggled to reach consensus Friday on legislation that
aimed to make children safer in school, even though it had enjoyed
widespread bipartisan support and included several reforms called for by the
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission.
When the clock struck midnight, the school-safety bill died on the last day
of Florida’s legislative session. The House and the Senate could not iron
That means reforms that were supposed to improve laws passed after the 2018
Parkland school shooting won’t take effect. The bill would have expanded
mental health training for campus school safety officers. It also would have
required school districts have emergency reunification plans for families.
It sought to give sheriffs greater oversight in ensuring school safety
officers are properly trained.
One amendment that was added to the bill would have stopped school safety
officers from arresting children younger than 7 at school under most
Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, said the Legislature failed to make needed
changes to address youth suicides, gun violence and unsafe school safety
“I definitely cried a little bit on the House floor when it happened,”
Eskamani said. “I was very, very stressed, but we continue with greater
resolve. At the very least, there is continuation of the status quo, but we
have a lot of work to do.”
The breakdown unfolded in the late hours. It stood in stark contrast to two
years ago when lawmakers came together to pass laws after the Feb. 14, 2018,
massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. That legislation mandated
a safety officer be placed in every school and raised the age to buy a rifle
from 18 to 21.
House Speaker Jose Oliva said he was left “wondering” what happened, adding
that “things got caught up in the details.”
“This is the first year we don’t make some changes,”said Oliva, R-Miami
Lakes. “We have done a great deal of work in the area of school safety. We
will continue to do a great deal of work. It’s unfortunate that this one
bill couldn’t get through.”
Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, said the Senate stood by its
legislation because it believed it was better, and “that’s how this process