OPPAGA text logo with graphic of FL historic capitol
OPPAGA text logo with graphic of FL historic capitol

Education System

School Safety, Security, and Discipline

What is the purpose of the program?

The program implements the state constitutional requirement that Florida provide by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education and for the establishment, maintenance, and operation of institutions of higher learning and other public education programs that the needs of the people may require.

What is the the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act?

Chapter 2018-3, Laws of Florida, is also known as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act.  The Legislature passed the act following the February 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the Broward County School District.  The purpose of the act is to comprehensively address the crisis of gun violence, including but not limited to, gun violence on school campuses.

What is the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission?

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission was formed to specifically analyze information from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting and other mass violence incidents in the state of Florida and address recommendations and system improvements. The commission, which operates within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, is composed of 16 members. The Governor appoints the chair and five members and the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives each appoint five members. Section 943.687, Florida Statutes, specifies the minimum duties of the commission and requires the commission to submit an initial report on its findings and recommendations to the Governor, President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The commission will sunset on July 1, 2023.

For more information on the commission or to view the commission's documents and meeting materials, please visit the Florida Department of Law Enforcement website.

What is the Office of Safe Schools?

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, codified the Office of Safe Schools within the Department of Education. The Office of Safe Schools serves as a central repository for best practices, training standards, and compliance oversight in all matters regarding school safety and security, including prevention efforts, intervention efforts, and emergency preparedness planning.

What are the responsibilities of the Office of Safe Schools?

The office performs a variety of functions that aid in the safety and security of schools, including

  • maintaining a school security risk assessment tool for use by school districts;
  • providing ongoing professional development opportunities to school district personnel;
  • providing a coordinated interdisciplinary approach to providing technical assistance and guidance to school districts regarding safety and security recommendations to address findings from districts' school security risk assessments;
  • developing and implementing a School Safety Specialist Training Program for school safety specialists appointed by each district, which must include active shooter training;
  • reviewing and providing recommendations on districts' security risk assessments;
  • coordinating with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to provide a centralized integrated data repository and data analytics resources to improve access to timely, complete, and accurate information;
  • providing data to support the evaluation of mental health services;
  • awarding grants to schools to improve the safety and security of school buildings based upon the recommendations of districts' security risk assessments;
  • disseminating, in consultation with FDLE, awareness and education materials on School Safety Awareness programs to participating schools; and
  • convening a School Hardening and Harm Mitigation Workgroup composed of individuals with subject matter expertise of school campus hardening best practices, and presenting the findings to the Commissioner of Education.

What is the Florida Safe Schools Assessment Tool?

Section 1006.07(6), Florida Statutes, requires school districts to annually conduct the Florida Safe Schools Assessment Tool (FSSAT), which is a risk-assessment of their safety and security practices.  The FSSAT is intended to help school officials identify threats, vulnerabilities, and appropriate safety controls for the schools. Examples of safety and security components addressed by the FSSAT include physical security measures, school security and school police staffing, and school emergency and crisis preparedness planning.

The findings of the assessment must be presented to the school board annually, along with the district's school safety specialist's recommendations on how to address those findings. These findings must also be reported to the Office of Safe Schools within 30 days after the district school board meeting.

What safety and security requirements must school districts follow?

Chapter 2018-3, Laws of Florida, requires school districts to
  • cooperate with law enforcement agencies to assign one or more safe-school officers at each school facility;
  • designate a school administrator to complete required training and act as the school safety specialist for the district;
  • designate a threat assessment team at each school which will consult law enforcement when a student exhibits a pattern of behavior that would pose a threat;
  • formulate and prescribe policies and procedures for emergency drills for hostage and active shooter situations; and
  • coordinate with public safety agencies that are designated as first responders to a school's campus to tour campuses every three years and provide recommendations related to school safety.

What is a safe-school officer?

Section 1006.12, Florida Statutes, requires each district school board and school district superintendent to partner with law enforcement agencies to establish or assign one or more safe-school officers at each school facility within the district. When deciding what is best for their district, school districts can
  • establish a school resource officer program, through a cooperative agreement with law enforcement agencies;
  • commission one or more school safety officers for the protection and safety of school personnel, property, and students within the school district;
  • participate in the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program; and/or
  • contract with a security agency to employ a school security guard.

What is ForitfyFL?

ForitfyFL is a mobile suspicious reporting tool that allows for the instant relay of information and suspicious activity to appropriate law enforcement agencies and school officials. The 2018 Legislature funded FortifyFL as part of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. The Office of the Attorney General, the Department of Education, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement coordinated the development and roll out of the application. The application allows students to provide a description of a threat, share pictures and videos, and optionally submit their contact information for follow-up communication.

What is the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program?

The Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program allows sheriffs to appoint certain school personnel who are not strictly classroom teachers to serve as a school guardian and aid in the abatement of active shooter incidents on school premises. A school guardian must complete 132 hours of comprehensive firearm safety and proficiency training, 12 hours of diversity training, pass a psychological evaluation, and pass an initial drug test and subsequent random drug tests.  School districts have the option to participate in this program if it is available in their county; however, the overall program does not require school personnel to participate.

How much safety funding do schools receive?

The Safe Schools Allocation was created to provide funds to assist school districts in complying with statutory requirements related to student discipline and school safety. Each school district receives a minimum safe schools allocation in an amount specified in the General Appropriations Act. The Legislature allocated $180 million in Ch. 2020-111, Laws of Florida, for 2020-21 safe school activities.  Each school district receives $250,000, and then the balance of the Safe Schools Allocation is distributed based upon the following formula: two-thirds based on the latest FDLE Crime Index and one-third based on each district's share of the state's total un-weighted student enrollment. 

The Fiscal Year 2020-21 General Appropriations Act (Ch. 2020-111, Laws of Florida) also created the following appropriations to implement school safety initiatives:

  • $100 million for the Department of Education to fund the mental health assistance allocation;
  • $42 million to fund a grant program for improving the physical security of schools and buildings;  
  • $500,000 to sheriff's offices that decide to establish a school guardian program; and 
  • $640,000 to fund the use of the Florida Safe Schools Assessment Tool (FSSAT) at all public school sites.

What data are available on youth safety issues?

The Department of Education coordinates with other state agencies to collect and maintain a variety of data on school safety and related topics including the

What data are available on school discipline?

The Florida Department of Education maintains a School Environmental Safety Incident Reporting (SESIR) System, which collects data on twenty-six types of incidents involving crime, violence, and disruptive behaviors that occur on school grounds, on school transportation, and at off-campus, school-sponsored events.  Schools report on incidents to districts; the districts then provide that data to the department.

Updates

Alyssa's Law.  The 2020 Legislature enacted Chapter 2020-145, Laws of Florida, which relates to alert systems in public schools. This legislation is also known as Alyssa’s Law, named after Alyssa Alhadeff, one of the 17 people killed during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, 2018.  The law requires all public and charter schools to have a mobile panic alert system beginning with the 2021-22 school year. The system, when activated, is intended to connect diverse emergency services to ensure real-time coordination between multiple first responder agencies. The Department of Education will oversee a competitive bidding process to select the developer of the system.

Where can I find related OPPAGA reports?

A complete list of related OPPAGA reports is available on our website.

Where can I get more information?

What are the applicable statutes?

Article IX, Section 1, Constitution of the State of Florida; Chapter 1003 Part III, 1006 Part C; and Sections 943.687 and 30.15, Florida Statutes.

Whom do I contact for help?

Florida Department of Education, Office of Safe Schools, safeschools@fldoe.org

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