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DeSantis Signs Bill to Strengthen Safety and Address Mental Health in FL Schools

DeSantis promulga ley para reforzar la seguridad y atender la salud mental en las escuelas de Florida

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Two weeks after the Texas school shooting that killed 21 people, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law Tuesday a bill that seeks to increase security at the state’s schools, with a special emphasis on student mental health.

The new state law requires school districts to certify annually that at least 80% of school personnel have youth mental health training.

In addition, school staff must be trained in mental health crisis intervention and improve their knowledge to respond to and reduce incidents in schools.

In his state budget, the governor also approved $140 million for mental health and $210 million for school safety.

The state Legislature passed the bill one day after last May 24, when a young man walked into an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, armed, killing 19 children and 2 teachers.

The state of Florida strengthened school security and placed emphasis on mental health in 2018 when the young Nikolas Cruz entered his former high school in Parkland, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas, and killed 14 students and 3 staff members of the school.

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According to a statement received by El American from the Republican Party of Florida, HB1421 acts as follows:

  • It extends the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission.
  • It authorizes the Commissioner of Education to enforce, rather than just supervise, school safety and security compliance.
  • It authorizes school officials to make arrests in charter schools.
  • It requires all school officials to complete crisis intervention and other training to improve knowledge and skills to better respond to and reduce incidents on school premises.
  • It requires law enforcement officers to be present and involved in active assailant emergency drills.
  • It requires school boards to adopt family reunification plans in the event of an evacuation.
  • It requires school districts to certify annually that at least 80 percent of school personnel have received mandatory youth mental health awareness training.