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July 22, 2022

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Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr. Addresses Florida Association of School Resource Officers

~ Officers focused on what’s next for Florida’s school safety and mental health initiatives ~

Tallahassee, Fla., July 22, 2022 – Today, the Florida Association of School Resource Officers (FASRO) completed their annual conference offering professional development and training for law enforcement officers.

Key takeaways from the FASRO conference include:

  • Establishment of new requirements under House Bill 1421, including the requirement that each school district annually certify that no fewer than 80 percent of school personnel in elementary, middle and high schools have received required youth mental health awareness and assistance training.
  • A reaffirmed commitment for law enforcement officers to be physically present and directly involved in active assailant emergency drills.
  • New features for the school security risk assessment, which helps schools enhance additional security measures.
  • Best practices for family reunification plans to quickly unite parents and students following school emergencies.

Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr. delivered opening remarks to kick off the conference in Orlando.

“My number one priority is the health, safety, and wellbeing of Florida’s students, teachers, and school staff,” said Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr. “While there are so many important components of education that we often focus on – quality instruction, assessments, curricula – none of that matters if students don’t make it home at the end of the day. Thanks to recent initiatives by Governor DeSantis, Florida is laser-focused on school safety and will continue to do everything possible to keep our kids and educators safe in the classroom.”

“Through the work of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Commission and recent legislation signed into law, Florida is leading the way in school safety,” said State Board of Education Member Ryan Petty. “There’s been a culture change from the ground up, and I am proud of the preparation and dedication of our law enforcement officers, school safety officers, and guardians. Despite the many improvements in school safety, we can never rest. We will explore every opportunity to better secure our schools and ensure students receive needed services to prevent violence.” 

The Florida Department of Education and Governor Ron DeSantis are putting the safety of students and teachers first. Dynamic school safety legislation has been signed into law and implemented every year since the 2018 tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, beginning with one of the most important of these mandates – the requirement that each public school have one or more safe-school officers assigned to every school facility.  

Since 2019, Governor DeSantis has prioritized school safety and mental health funding in Florida and has increased the amount of funding for these initiatives every year he has been in office.

Earlier this year, Governor DeSantis signed House Bill 1421 to build on legislation over the last three years to implement the additional recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission to make schools safer and improve youth mental health in Florida. In the Freedom First Budget, Governor DeSantis also approved a record nearly $400 million for mental health and school safety, including school hardening grants and youth mental health awareness and assistance training.

In 2021, the Governor signed Senate Bill 590, which required school administrators to gather data on involuntary examinations of students and report data to the Florida Department of Education; required school safety officers to receive mental health training; and required schools to give timely notification of threats, unlawful acts, and significant emergencies. In Fiscal Year 2021-2022, the Governor signed $368 million in the budget for school safety and mental health funding, including: 

  • $120 million for the Mental Health Assistance Allocation, an increase of $20 million over the previous year;
  • $180 million maintained for the Safe Schools component of the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP); and
  • $6.5 million for the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program to train teachers and staff for emergencies.  

These bills strengthened the protection of children by increasing communication and notifications prior to a student being subjected to an involuntary examination, and required additional mental health training for teachers and students in teacher preparation programs. 

In 2020, the Governor signed Senate Bill 70, Alyssa’s Law, which required the Florida Department of Education to utilize funding and work with public schools to implement a panic alert system to ensure real-time coordination between first responders. For the 2020-2021 Fiscal Year, the Governor signed $342 million for school safety and mental health funding, including: 

  • $100 million for Mental Health Assistance Allocation, an increase of $25 million over the previous year;
  • $180 million maintained for the Safe Schools component of the FEFP;
  • $3 million for recurring funding to gather and analyze data from social media and state agencies; and
  • $8 million for Alyssa’s Law, to implement a panic alert system between schools and emergency services.  

In 2019, the Governor enacted legislation to implement school safety recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission and issued Executive Order 19-45 to require the Department of Education to communicate best practices for school safety to all school districts. In Fiscal Year 2019-2020, the Governor approved $317 million for school safety and mental health funding including: 

  • $180 million for the Safe Schools component of the FEFP;
  • Over $80 million for Mental Health Assistance Allocation and for Youth Mental Health awareness; and
  • $50 million for school hardening grants to improve security of school campuses.  
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