Rutherford, Diaz-Balart, Deutch, Murphy Reintroduce School Safety Legislation

February 3, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. ­­–– Today, U.S. Representatives John Rutherford (FL-4), Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25), Ted Deutch (FL-22), and Stephanie Murphy (FL-7) reintroduced the Luke and Alex School Safety Act, the House companion to a Senate Bill introduced by Ron Johnson (R-WI), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Rick Scott (R-FL). This legislation codifies into law a federal clearinghouse that categorizes, assesses, and shares best practices for school safety measures and identifies the resources necessary to implement them.

The Luke and Alex School Safety Act honors Luke Hoyer, Alex Schachter, and the 15 others who tragically lost their lives due to a cruel act of violence in Parkland, Florida.

“Every child deserves to feel safe in school," said Rep. Rutherford. “For administrators, students, parents, and local law enforcement to develop a robust school safety approach, they need easy access to the most accurate and up-to-date information on how to do so. The Luke and Alex School Safety Act will create a one stop shop for the latest school safety research, best practices, and grant opportunities, and make them accessible to every school district across America. Thank you to Representatives Diaz-Balart, Deutch, and Murphy for their commitment to protecting our students in school.”

“As we approach the third anniversary of the Parkland shooting, one thing remains at the forefront of my priorities: doing all that I can to promote, enhance, and increase school safety, said Rep. Diaz-Balart. "As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, I have secured billions in federal dollars to fund school safety initiatives, including school hardening measures, youth mental health services, and training for staff and law enforcement officers. This bill creates an all-inclusive site for schools, families, and community officials to obtain valuable information on school safety resources and best practices. I reiterate my gratitude to the Parkland families, including Alex's father, Max Schachter, Luke's parents, Gena and Tom Hoyer, and Gina’s father, Tony Montalto, who is the President of Stand with Parkland. They have truly turned their grief into advocacy for the safety of our children, and I cannot thank them enough for their efforts in making our schools more secure. I thank my colleagues for joining me in introducing this bipartisan and bicameral legislation and I look forward to it swiftly reaching the President's desk.”

“As we work to end the pandemic and return to a normal school year for our students, we must build school safety into the process,” said Rep. Deutch. “Schools shouldn’t wait to implement measures to keep students safe from threats, particularly gun violence. This bipartisan proposal, named in memory of two Stoneman Douglas students and driven by the Parkland families, can help prepare schools by creating a federal clearinghouse of resources and best practices for school safety. Now, not after another tragedy, is the time to pass this bill to keep our students safe.”

“Students shouldn’t have to fear for their lives when they go to school and parents shouldn’t have to worry about whether their kids will come home at the end of the day,” said Rep. Murphy. “I’m proud to join with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure that schools in Florida and across the country have access to the best resources and information to keep our children safe."

“I want to thank Congressmen Diaz-Balart, Deutch, Rutherford, and Congresswoman Murphy for reintroducing The Luke and Alex School Safety Act,” said Max Schachter, Alex Schachter's father and Founder & Executive Director of Safe Schools for Alex. This legislation codifies into law the Federal Clearinghouse on School Safety. The clearinghouse is one of the most significant federal resources to protect children in their school. It provides a one-stop shop website for best practices, resources and grant dollars. It is extremely important that LASSA be passed as quickly as possible.”

“We still find it hard to grasp that our son Luke was killed in a school, along with 16 other innocent souls,” said Tom and Gena Hoyer, Luke Hoyer’s parents. “This legislation will help protect our nation’s children and teachers while they are in school.  We are deeply grateful to the members of the Florida delegation who have come together on this bill for school safety.”

“When founding members of Stand with Parkland – The National Association of Families for Safe Schools testified before House and Senate committees in 2019, we asked for a bill to create a federal school safety clearinghouse,” said Tony Montalto, Gina Montalto’s father and President of Stand with Parkland – The National Association of Families for Safe Schools. “Congressman Ted Deutch, Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, and Congressman John Rutherford joined together and put forth the Luke and Alex School Safety Act, named after Luke Hoyer and Alex Schachter two of the victims murdered in the Parkland school shooting. Stand with Parkland is grateful to these leaders from Florida’s congressional delegation for reintroducing this bipartisan bill in the 117th Congress. We urge lawmakers from both parties to embrace this area of common ground, come together and move swiftly to pass this legislation that will make America's schools safer for all students and staff members.”  

Background:

  • Codifies and structures a Clearinghouse of School Safety Best Practices within DHS. 
    • Acknowledge the efforts of past commissions by populating the Clearinghouse with recommendations for comprehensive school safety measures, including threat prevention, preparedness, protection, mitigation, incident response, and recovery to improve the safety posture of a school upon implementation.
    • Specify criteria for best practices and recommendations and a process for continuous improvement and updating of Clearinghouse so it remains relevant, easy to use, and does not become an enormous data bank wish list.
  • Reviews all grant programs administered by the Departments of Education, HHS, DOJ, and DHS to identify those that may be used for school security improvements and to identify any Clearinghouse items that are not currently supported by any existing grant program.
  • Requires the Attorney General and the Secretaries of Education, HHS, and DHS to notify their respective counterparts at the state level and other relevant stakeholders, including parents, of the School Safety Clearinghouse.
  • Identifies which state officials are responsible for school safety, as well as any grant program that may be used to award grants for the purposes of implementing best practices and recommendations of the Clearinghouse.

 

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