Now that it’s in effect, how are school districts around the state complying with Alyssa’s Law? That’s the question the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission was trying to answer Monday.
The law requires every school to have a panic button system in case of emergencies. Broward County School Board member Lori Alhadeff fought for the law’s creation in tribute to her daughter, Alyssa, who was among the 17 killed in the Parkland mass shooting three years ago. It’s not about physical buttons mounted in classrooms, the panic button system is contained in an application which 5,000 educators in Broward have already downloaded. Any staff member at a school can download and use the app.
“For an active shooter situation, fire emergency, or a medical emergency,” Alhadeff said as she showed us the three “buttons” a teacher could touch on a cellphone to notify the 911 operator.
It’s simple to use and provides an added layer of security in case the unthinkable happens again.
Parkland School Tragedy
“We really wanted to empower our teachers so if something went wrong, they know that if they push that button, within seconds law enforcement is notified and staff in the school is also notified and we’ve had a great response, they feel safer,” Alhadeff said.
Broward and Miami-Dade Public Schools are using the SaferWatch app, which the company says is integrated directly with the 911 systems in each county.
However, the charter schools are free to choose their own vendors and some of them have. The commission said Monday that some school districts and charter schools say they’re in compliance with the law, but their systems alert a third party company which in turn calls 911, resulting in potential delays. The school districts are required to fix those issues sometime during this school year.
“Some are considered up and running, meaning it’s installed, a button’s pushed and it’s going someplace, but not necessarily to the 911 center,” said commission chair, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.
School just started a few weeks ago and already, Alyssa’s Law is credited with saving a life at a school in Lee County.
“The button was pushed, an AED was deployed, and the student’s here today, so we’re seeing this impact that this is happening already in our schools,” said Tim Hay, who runs the Department of Education’s Office of Safe Schools.
That, Alhadeff says, is her daughter’s legacy.
“I want everyone to remember Alyssa, and know that Alyssa will help to save lives forever and it just makes such an impact in this awful traumatic situation that Alyssa will be spoken about and with the punch of a button, Alyssa will help to save lives,” Alhadeff said.