RELEASE: Parents of Parkland School Shooting Victims Join Reps. Gottheimer, Fitzpatrick, Moskowitz, Gonzales, and Davis to Introduce Bipartisan School Safety Legislation

Requires School Panic Alarms and Invests in School Resource Officers

Jul 27, 2023
Press

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Thursday, July 27, 2023, U.S. Representatives Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1), Jared Moskowitz (FL-23), Tony Gonzales (TX-23), and Don Davis (NC-1) joined parents of the Parkland school shooting victims — Lori Alhadeff, Max Schachter, and Tony Montalto — to announce new bipartisan school safety legislation to require silent panic alarms in schools nationwide and invest in School Resource Officers. 14-year-olds Alyssa Alhadeff, Alex Schachter, and Gina Montalto were senselessly killed in Parkland, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in 2018.

The bipartisan Alyssa’s Legacy Youth in School Safety Alert (ALYSSA) Act of 2023 will require silent panic alarms in all schools to immediately alert law enforcement of an active shooter situation. The bipartisan Strengthening Our Schools (SOS) Act of 2023 will increase investment in more well-trained School Resource Officers so that every school has a first responder already on the campus in the event of a critical incident.

According to the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics, only 40% of schools report using silent alarms that are directly connected to local law enforcement. In 2022 alone, more than 270 people were fatally shot or wounded on school grounds, up from 159 in 2018. Just this year, there have been 134 people fatally shot or wounded on school grounds.

“There are no words to describe the strength and courage each of you has shown over the years after that Valentine’s Day afternoon. As a father of a 14-year-old and an 11-year-old, I cannot even begin to fathom the pain you’ve endured. But, you’ve never given up. And I can promise you none of us here today will ever give up in our fight for you, the memories of your children, and for the children across our nation,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), a member of the Bipartisan School Safety and Security Caucus. “We are here today to honor Alyssa, Alex, and Gina and turn their memory — and the pain their family and friends carry every day — into action.”

“We owe it to our students, educators, and school communities to prioritize their safety,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. “Our bipartisan package will require the implementation of silent alarms in schools and increase funding for School Resource Officers (SRO’s), allowing law enforcement to be notified and to respond at a quicker rate in the event of an active shooter situation. I am proud to stand with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle in introducing these substantive, commonsense solutions to ensure our schools are more secure,” said Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1).

“As members of Congress, we must take any step we can to keep kids safe. By putting more well-trained, ready-to-act SROs in every school and setting up silent alarms in every school directly connected to local law enforcement agencies, we are taking concrete steps to help further protect our children,” said Congressman Jared Moskowitz (FL-23).

“Both the Strengthening Our Schools (SOS) Act and Alyssa’s Legacy Youth in School Safety Alert (ALYSSA) Act will implement common-sense changes to protect students in classrooms across the nation. School Resource Officers prevent and respond to situations of violence in schools, the SOS Act will put more of these individuals on school grounds,” said Congressman Tony Gonzales (TX-23), Co-Chair of the Bipartisan School Safety and Security Caucus. “Texas has already passed legislation at the state level that would require silent panic alarms in all schools – the ALYSSA Act would ensure educators and students in every state have these life-saving tools in their classrooms.” 

“As a father of three boys, including a school-age son, I know common sense school safety legislation is long overdue,” said Congressman Don Davis (NC-1). “We cannot in good conscience stand by while our children fear for their lives in the classroom. With the introduction of this package of school safety bills, Congress is sending a strong and clear message that bipartisan action is needed to save lives. Both the ALYSSA Act and SOS Act build on the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act by requiring panic alarms and investments in School Resource Officers to keep our kids safe.”

“Thank you, Congressman Gottheimer and all the cosponsors, Max Schachter, and Tony Montalto for all of your support on this vital legislation. On February 14, I texted my daughter Alyssa, I told her to run and hide and that help was on the way. Unfortunately, that help didn’t get to Alyssa fast enough. This is why it’s so vitally important to get law enforcement on the scene as quickly as possible. Time equals life. Alyssa’s Act will give schools the panic button as a standard level of school safety protection in every school across this country,” said Lori Alhadeff, Chair of Broward County School Board and President of Make Our Schools Safe.

“In just 1 minute and 44 seconds, the Parkland mass murderer shot and/or killed 24 people, including my little boy Alex and Lori and Tony’s daughters Alyssa and Gina. Seconds save lives. The quicker you can stop the killing, the quicker you will stop the dying. That’s why the two bills Josh Gottheimer re-introduced today are critical to protecting children in our schools. The ALYSSA Act puts a panic app in every teacher’s hand so law enforcement can respond immediately. The SOS Act invests in training for school resource officers so they know how to properly respond in the moment of crisis. I believe that with a panic app and better trained law enforcement, Alex, Alyssa and Gina would still be alive today,” said Max Schachter with Safe Schools for Alex.

“Thanks to Congressmen Fitzpatrick and Gottheimer for working across the aisle to introduce the bipartisan Alyssa’s Legacy Youth in School Safety Alert (ALYSSA) Act of 2023 and Strengthening Our Schools (SOS) Act of 2023 which stand as beacons of hope and progress in protecting our nation’s educational institutions. Schools safety should not be a partisan issue. By coming together as an American family, we can all be part of the solution that protects our nations students and teachers. Stand with Parkland – The National Association of Families for Safe Schools is proud to support both of these bills, which exemplify our dedication to safeguarding our country’s most valuable asset—our youth—and lay the groundwork for a brighter, more secure future for generations to come,” said Tony Montalto with Stand with Parkland.

“Effective school safety requires a multi-faceted approach that combines cutting-edge technology and the presence of School Resource Officers (SROs). This legislative package by Rep. Gottheimer is moving school safety forward by embracing a layered strategy that ensures fast response during critical incidents, deters potential threats, and also fosters a culture of safety, trust, and support where students can focus on learning and thriving,” said Navigate360 CEO JP Guilbault.

“On behalf of the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, I extend our heartfelt gratitude to Congressman Gottheimer for his outstanding leadership in spearheading a bipartisan effort to address the critical issue of school safety. A top priority of every school principal is the safety and well-being of our students, and these two bills present a proactive, common-sense approach intent on keeping our children secure. By enhancing rapid communication with law enforcement and investing in highly trained school resource officers, these bills will strengthen schools’ ongoing efforts to safeguard our children. We look forward to continuing our collaborative efforts with Congressman Gottheimer and all who support this legislation for the safety and welfare of our students,” said New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association Executive Director Karen Bingert.

“The National Education Association is committed to keeping our schools safe for both our students and our educators. We thank Rep. Josh Gottheimer for proposing a bill that includes an evidence-based strategy for protecting schools: the installation and use of silent panic alarms. We hope Congress continues to advance other trauma-informed ways to free our schools from the plague of gun violence, allowing educators to focus on engaging and mentoring students, and students to focus on learning and discovery,” said National Education Association Director of Government Relations Marc Egan.

The Alyssa’s Legacy Youth in School Safety Alert (ALYSSA) Act of 2023 is co-lead by Representatives Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1), Andy Kim (NJ-3), and Tom Kean, Jr. (NJ-7) and supported by Representatives Nancy Mace (SC-1), Don Bacon (NE-2), Donald Davis (NC-1), Jared Moskowitz (FL-23), Hank Johnson (GA-4), Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), Tony Gonzales (TX-23), Jim Costa (CA-21). 

The Strengthening Our Schools (SOS) Act of 2023 is co-lead by Representatives Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1), Andy Kim (NJ-3), and Nancy Mace (SC-1) and supported by Representatives Don Bacon (NE-2), Donald Davis (NC-1), Jared Moskowitz (FL-23), Hank Johnson (GA-4), Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), Tony Gonzales (TX-23), Jim Costa (CA-21), Mike Thompson (CA-4)

Below: Reps. Gottheimer, Fitzpatrick, Moskowitz, Gonzales, and Davis with Lori Alhadeff, Max Schachter, and Tony Montalto to announce bipartisan school safety legislation. 

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