New Law Named After Parkland Student Requires Silent Alarms in New Jersey Schools
By Tonya Alanez
Parents of slain Parkland student Alyssa Alhadeff on Wednesday witnessed the governor of New Jersey sign a school-safety law named for their daughter, something they hope to do at home in Florida next.
"Alyssa's Law" requires public schools in New Jersey to install panic buttons in every building to silently alert law enforcement to emergencies or life-threatening situations on campus.
The Alhadeffs, who used to live in New Jersey, are optimistic about getting a version of the law passed in Florida.
To that end, state Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, has filed SB 174 to be heard during the legislative session that begins March 5.
"Our goal is to get Alyssa's Law passed in every state," Lori Alhadeff said. "New Jersey is step one; now my focus is going to be in Florida."
Book's bill would require all Florida public schools to install panic alarms, or silent security signals, linked to each school's designated first responders. The House does not, so far, have a companion bill.
"This will save kids lives," Lori Alhadeff said from a New Jersey airport where she was waiting to board a flight home to Florida. "We are just elated. This panic button will get law enforcement there as soon as possible, because time equals life."
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission's report contained dozens of recommendations. But silent alarms weren't among the specific recommendations to improve school security.
Alyssa was 14 when she was shot ten times through the window of her classroom door at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. She and 16 others died at the hands of an ex-student armed with an AR-15. It was Valentine's Day.
Alyssa was the oldest of Lori and Ilan Alhadeff's three children and their only daughter. She was a beach lover with a knack for creative writing and destined for law school. Alyssa was also a standout soccer star, playing with a local club and her school's junior varsity team.
Frustrated with the Broward School District's response to the massacre at her daughter's high school, Lori Alhadeff, last year, ran and won a seat on the School Board.
The former stay-at-home soccer mom also created a nonprofit, Make Schools Safe, aimed at equipping schools with safety features, such as metal detectors, bullet-resistant glass and enhanced fencing and gates.
"It means the world to us that we could honor Alyssa," Lori Alhadeff said. "I know that she would say, 'good job, mom. You've done good.'"
In New Jersey, Democrats and Republicans alike supported passage of the new law.
"Alyssa's death is a stark reminder of the dangers of gun violence and the need for adequate school security measures," New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said. "In New Jersey, we will do everything in our power to prevent these tragedies from occurring within our borders."
(c)2019 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)