PARKLAND, Fla. – Schools across South Florida are stepping up security in the wake of the Texas school massacre.
Parents of victims from the Parkland school shooting are also speaking about the tragedy.
South Florida knows the pain in Texas; no one as acutely as the parents of children killed in Parkland in February of 2018.
“I know that pain because my daughter Alyssa was killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School,” said parent and Broward school board member Lori Alhadeff.
Tony Montalto, president and founder of Stand with Parkland, said the news out of Uvalde was a painful reminder of losing his daughter.
“Sadly, it brings us back to the day that Gina was murdered in her high school, along with her classmates and teachers,” Montalto said.
Other parents took to social media to express pain and frustration.
Andrew Pollack tweeted, “We should have fixed it after Columbine. We should have fixed it after Sandy Hook. We should have fixed it after Parkland.”
Max Schachter wrote: “15 families are sitting at a conference room in Uvalde, Texas right now crying....wondering if they will ever see their child and spouse ever again. HEARTBREAKING.”
Manuel Oliver lashed out at politicians who “keep ignoring our voices.”
Fred Guttenberg had some harsh words for Sen. Ted Cruz, of Texas.
“I sat with you 3 years ago. I begged you to have a different response to gun violence. You went forward from there & continued to mock people like me,” he wrote. “@tedcruz, F*** YOU. This is on your hands. Don’t put out messages like this. Walk to @ChrisMurphyCT and do something now.”
But changes have been made to school safety in Florida.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High Public Safety Act, that was signed into law in 2018, requires an officer inside every school, and creates new requirements for mental health assessments, among other measures.
Many Parkland parents say the law is improving safety.
“As a school board member, my priority is to make sure that schools are safe,” Alhadeff said
“Schools are definitely safer now than they were in 2018,” Montalto said. “Here in Florida, we’ve passed a school safety bill each session for the last five years. That’s impressive.”
“We’re not immune to the next school attack,” said Parkland parent Ryan Petty. “But we have taken significant steps to make our schools safer.”
Also in the wake of Parkland is a new, specialized Miami-Dade police unit called the Priority Response Team. Local 10 News rode along with the team in May of 2019.
Miami-Dade Schools Police is also at the ready. Chief Edwin Lopez told Local 10 “...our law enforcement personnel are trained to mitigate all types of critical incidents in our schools. Our mission remains clear: we stand ready to protect our students and employees from any threat that poses danger to our school community.”
In Broward, Sheriff Gregory Tony has directed extra patrols of all schools in BSO’s districts.