This weekend, as people celebrate Valentine’s Day with candy hearts, cards, and flowers, the Parkland community will mourn the third anniversary of the tragic Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting, which claimed the lives of 17 people and injured 17 more.
To prevent another Parkland from happening again, Florida Representative Dan Daley, who is a graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, filed HB-951, the Parents Need to Know Act. This Act would require schools to notify parents and staff within 24 hours when a threat or incident has taken place on campus and to include what actions were taken in response to the threat. The bill would also create a hotline and online reporting system for parents to report school safety issues. In the Senate, a companion will be filed by Senator Shevrin Jones.
The Parents Need to Know Act is an attempt to undo the reckless precedent set by Judge Englander Henning. On February 9th, Broward Circuit Judge Patti Englander ruled the Broward County School District had no duty to warn parents of the threat posed by the Parkland shooter. Judge Patti Englander Henning said, “Broward County school district cannot be held liable for failing to predict actions that were beyond its control.”
However, predictions of Cruz’s future actions were not that far-fetched. Similar to other school shooters, Nikolas Cruz exhibited troubling behavior before opening fire on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and posted threats on social media, including a comment that “Im going to be a professional school shooter.” Under the Parents Need to Know Act, parents and staff would have been notified of the threat posed by Cruz and the Parkland massacre on February 14, 2018 could have been prevented.
Working to put protocols in place to potentially save lives, Daley filed the Parents Need to Know Act, requiring schools to transparently communicate with parents and staff regarding their children’s safety and create a hotline and online reporting system. Upon filing HB-951, Representative Daley said, “It is our collective responsibility to make the world a safer place for our children.”
The first step in keeping students safe at school is creating a system where parents are alerted to the threats their children face, and the Parents Need to Know Act does this. From the creation of the hotline and online reporting system to require transparency of students’ safety, the Act provides important information to Florida families and puts safeguards in place to prevent another school shooting.
The families and classmates of those who lost loved ones in the Parkland tragedy have spent the days, weeks, and years since the school shooting committed to closing the gap in school safety. And now, with Representative Daley’s help and the Parents Need to Know Act, we are one step closer to making schools safer for Florida’s children.