School Safety Needs Improvement: Findings of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Commission
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Commission (the “Commission”) released its Initial Report on January 2, 2019 calling for improvements in school safety and security in Florida. The report cites a lack of institutional accountability as the driving force behind mediocre safety practices. These are exacerbated by non-compliance, poor enforcement of existing policies, and a lack of urgency to implement effective policies.
On February 14, 2018, nineteen-year-old gunman, Nikolas Cruz, killed 17 student and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in what is now the one of the deadliest school shootings in the U.S.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act (MSDHSPSA) established the Commission on March 9, 2018. The primary purpose of this legislation and the Commission is to identify and address the issues that resulted in this tragedy. The Initial Report of the Commission provides,
- A timeline of events on February 14, 2018,
- Background and information on the gunman,
- Review and analysis of the events and incident response,
- Evaluation of incident response with regard to existing security policies,
- Identification of failures in incident response and gaps in security policy gaps,
- Identification of risks and threats,
- Recommendations for improvements in school safety officer response and agency communication and coordination during an emergency.
The MSDHSPSA also established the Office of Safe Schools (OSS) within the Florida Department of Education as the “central repository for the best practices, training standards and compliance regarding school safety and security.” The mission of the OSS is to develop and manage a school security risk assessment tool; provide professional development to school personnel on implementing security measures; and to develop a School Safety Specialist Training Program that includes an active shooter training program.
The Commission concludes that all affiliated organizations including schools, government, law enforcement and communities are accountable for providing effective safety and security at schools and implores these organizations to adopt a sense of urgency in establishing and implementing protocols that will ensure the safety of our children.
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