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State education official reports progress during implementation of new Alyssa’s law

Lori Alhadeff, a Broward County School Board member, said public schools in the area have a new mobile panic alert system that connects to emergency services for real-time coordination.
Lori Alhadeff, a Broward County School Board member, said public schools in the area have a new mobile panic alert system that connects to emergency services for real-time coordination.

Lori Alhadeff, a Broward County School Board member, said public schools in the area have a new mobile panic alert system that connects to emergency services for real-time coordination.

Last year, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a new law named after her late 14-year-old daughter Alyssa, who was among the 17 killed during the 2018 Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

“We are fully integrated with the 911 system. We are the model for the state of Florida with the SaferWatch Motorola app,” Alhadeff said on Monday about the “mobile panic button solution.”

Teachers are not required to download the app, but its success depends on it. As of Monday, only about 18% of Broward County Public Schools employees had downloaded it.

“Teachers think that we are tracking them and that is not true,” Alhadeff said.

Max Schachter, whose 14-year-old son Alex died during the Parkland shooting and runs Safe Schools for Alex, said there also need to be improvements with the schools’ intercoms.

“Until this day of the 53 high schools that they said they were going to do this in only two have been completed so far,” said Schachter, who is also a member of the state’s MSD Public Safety commission that completed a report November 2019 that resulted in a December grand jury report.

The commission is meeting on Monday and Tuesday at the BB&T Center. During Monday’s meeting, Sylvia Ifft, the Florida Department of Education’s deputy director of emergency management, provided a presentation about the progress of the implementation of Alyssa’s law.

“There was an intruder on campus, Alyssa’s alert was activated, a guardian was notified, guardian responded, campuses went on lockdown,” Ifft said. “The students in the area were evacuated; everything went according to plan.”

Ifft said the FDOE allocated $2,000 per public school campus, including charter schools, to implement the alert. Charter schools get to choose a vendor.


About the Author:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba.