New school safety federal legislation named after Parkland victim Alyssa Alhadeff

Lawmakers announce effort to implement panic button system, increase school resource officers nationwide

Alyssa Alhadeff was among the 17 killed during the 2018 Valentine's Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Lawmakers announced new school safety legislation on Thursday named after her.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A group of lawmakers and Parkland activists announced new federal school safety legislation on Thursday afternoon in Capitol Hill.

They were with parents of victims of the 2018 Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School at the grassy triangle on the House side of the Capitol’s East Front to announce the ALYSSA Act and the SOS Act.

“The ALYSSA Act will require silent panic alarms in all schools to immediately alert law enforcement of active shooter situations ... the SOS Act will increase investment in more well-trained school resource officers,” Rep. Josh Gottheimer, of New Jersey, said before introducing Lori Alhadeff.

“We can prevent violence from happening before it happens,” said Alhadeff, the Broward County School Board chair and president of Make Our Schools Safe, a nonprofit organization based out of Coral Springs.

Alhadeff shared a message for her daughter Alyssa, who was a winning debater and soccer midfielder: “I love you Alyssa and in your honor, you will be saving lives with this legislation and this action.”

Alhadeff also asked lawmakers to come together as Republicans and Democrats to swiftly move Alyssa’s Act, and the SOS Act forward through the legislative process.

“Don’t sit idly by until the next tragic school shooting,” Alhadeff said.

Rep. Tony Gonzales was the only Republican who spoke. He represents the residents of Uvalde, Texas, where there was a massacre on May 24, 2022, at Robb Elementary School when an 18-year-old former student fatally shot 19 students and two teachers.

“We can both protect the Constitution and we can protect our kids in school,” Gonzales said. “It doesn’t have to be either or.”

Lori Alhadeff shakes hands with Rep. Tony Gonzales, a Republican from Uvalde, Texas, after announcing new school safety legislation on Thursday in Capitol Hill. (Copyright 2023 by WPLG - All rights reserved.)

Max Schachter whose slain 14-year-old son Alex was a musician in the school marching band and a rec basketball player also spoke in support of the legislation.

“Alyssa’s Act puts a panic app at every teacher’s hand so law enforcement can respond immediately ... Seconds save lives,” Schachter said.

The photos of Alyssa, Alex, and Gina Montalto, a 14-year-old victim who was a member of the color guard, were on display by the podium. Schachter said he hopes that the Congressional walk-through Friday of the 1200 building with Representatives Mario Diaz Balart and Jared Moskowitz will help.

“Safety has to come before education,” Schachter said.

Moskowitz, who lives in Parkland and graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, said Florida is an example of how you can implement school safety with bipartisan support.

“Every single thing we do can save a life, and can have one more kid come home from school or a movie theater, or a grocery store, or just their regular neighborhood where gun violence is too prevalent,” Moskowitz said.

The news conference ended earlier than planned after an aide who was standing near the photographs of the Parkland victims required medical assistance and DC Fire Rescue personnel responded.

Watch the news conference on Facebook Live

About the Author:

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.