New legislation makes educators and students in 2 states feel safer on campus

Alyssa’s Law requires public elementary and secondary schools to be equipped with “silent panic alarms directly linked to law enforcement.”
Will Fullerton
Will Fullerton
Will Fullerton is the former chief of staff for the Texas Education Agency and current senior vice president of government affairs at CENTEGIX.

In June 2020, Florida lawmakers passed Alyssa’s Law, a crucial piece of legislation aimed at enhancing safety measures for educators and students on school campuses. Following suit, in May 2023, Texas adopted Alyssa’s Law, spurred by the tragic Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde.

Named in honor of Alyssa Alhadeff, a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting victim, Alyssa’s Law requires public elementary and secondary schools to be equipped with “silent panic alarms directly linked to law enforcement.” The purpose of this legislation is to decrease the time it takes for first responders to arrive at an emergency situation, whether it’s a shooting, a natural disaster, or other incidents.

Recent reports highlight the significant positive impact Alyssa’s Law has made on K-12 schools in Florida and Texas. In implementing school safety technologies to comply with the law, many school districts in Florida and Texas selected wearable badge-based technology, to ensure that every employee in the school district was protected at all times.

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Since 2020, roughly 35% of Florida’s public K-12 schools have opted for this type of solution, protecting nearly one million students and over one hundred thousand school staff members in Florida. From 2022 to 2023 when Alyssa’s Law was passed in Texas, wearable panic button technology grew by 200%. The chosen wearable panic button enables staff to request assistance from anywhere on campus without the need for cellular or Wi-Fi service, fulfilling the purpose of Alyssa’s Law—to decrease emergency response times and save lives.

The reports show that over 97% of staff members in Florida and 93% in Texas feel safer on campus with their wearable badge.

Sarah Bravo, principal at Mandarin High School in Florida shared, “There have been multiple situations including seizures, a dislocated knee, an allergic reaction, classroom altercations, and a threatening individual, that have prompted staff to use the three-button press. Our staff response time is significantly shorter with this tool. Responders reach the incident location in 30 seconds or less, regardless of the location on campus. Thankfully we haven’t had a need to use the tool for a full school lockdown yet, but I’m sure it will happen, and when it does, we will be ready.”

The positive effects of Alyssa’s Law are additionally underscored by the reported sense of empowerment among staff members. Currently, over 96% of Florida’s staff members feel empowered to promptly handle emergencies through the utilization of their wearable badges. This success has spurred legislative action in other states, with Alyssa’s Law proposed in Pennsylvania and Utah, implemented in New Jersey, New York, Texas, Tennessee, and introduced in numerous other states, including Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Virginia, and at the federal level.

As schools nationwide continue to prioritize campus safety, we must continue to support this vital legislation and the administrative leaders who recognize that every person employed within their district should be empowered to take action in the face of a crisis.

Michelle McCord, superintendent of Frenship ISD in Texas, emphasizes the collective responsibility for safety and security in public schools, stating, “Safety and security are everyone’s responsibility, so if we’re going to make that everyone’s responsibility, then everyone needs to be empowered to have a voice. These are public schools and parents entrust their children to us every day.”

We hope these resources encourage parents and other community members to advocate for safer schools in their communities. Our children deserve nothing less, and together, we can ensure a safer and more secure environment for our students and educators.

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