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 during the 2018 legislative session 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. The Commission has many duties related to monitoring the implementation of school safety legislation, such as identifying areas of noncompliance, reviewing school hardening grant expenditures, and investigating any failures in incident responses by law enforcement. Section 943.687, Florida Statutes, specifies the commission will sunset on July 1, 2026.
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 Office of Safe Schools within the Department of Education 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?
Sections 1006.07 and 1006.12, Florida Statutes, require 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 Chris Hixon, Coach Aaron Feis, and Coach Scott Beigel Guardian Program; and/or
- contract with a security agency to employ a school security guard.
ForitfyFL is a mobile suspicious activity reporting tool that allows for the instant relay of information and suspicious activity to appropriate law enforcement agencies and school officials. The 2018 Legislature created 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 Chris Hixon, Coach Aaron Feis, and Coach Scott Beigel Guardian Program?
The Chris Hixon, Coach Aaron Feis, and Coach Scott Beigel 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; 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 $250 million for 2023-23-24 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: one-third based on the latest FDLE Crime Index and two-thirds based on each district's share of the state's total unweighted student enrollment.
The Fiscal Year 2023-24 General Appropriations Act also made the following appropriations to implement school safety initiatives.
- $160 million for the Department of Education to fund the Mental Health Assistance Allocation
- $6.5 million to fund school guardian programs
- $845,000 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 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey, which assesses risks and protective factors for substance abuse and substance abuse prevalence.
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.
School Safety Changes. The 2023 Legislature enacted Ch. 2023-18, Laws of Florida, effective July 1, 2023, expanding the guardian program to private schools, standardizing threat management, and creating the Florida Safe Schools canine program by
- allowing a private school to contract with a sheriff's office to implement Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, and renaming the program to the Chris Hixon, Coach Aaron Feis, and Coach Scott Beigel Guardian program;
- requiring the Office of Safe Schools to develop a behavioral threat management operational process to guide public and charter schools in identifying, assessing, managing, and monitoring potential and real threats;
- requiring the Office of Safe Schools to create a Florida specific behavioral threat instrument to help evaluate the behavior of students who may post a serious threat to a school, staff, or students; and
- creates the Florida Safe Schools Canine Program to designate a person, school, or business who raises funds for the purchasing, training, and care of a firearms detection dog.
Cooperative Agreement Discontinued. The Florida Department of Education has elected to discontinue the cooperative agreement supporting the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) and School Health Profiles effective April 14, 2022.
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?
Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2019, National Center for Education Statistics, July 2020
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission Report, November 2019
Final Report of the Federal Commission on School Safety, The Federal Commission on School Safety, December 2018
Enhancing School Safety Using a Threat Assessment Model: An Operational Guide for Preventing School Violence, United States Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center, July 2018
A Comprehensive Report on School Safety Technology, National Institute of Justice at Johns Hopkins University, October 2016
Websites of Interest
Florida Department of Education Office of Safe Schools
U.S. Department of Homeland Security, School Safety and Security
Education Commission of the States, State Policy Responses to School Violence
National Crime Prevention Council, Be Safe and Sound in School
U.S. Departments of Education and Justice Release School Discipline Guidance Package to Enhance School Climate and Improve School Discipline Policies/Practices
Performance measures and standards for the department may be found in its Long Range Program Plan
What are the applicable statutes?
Article IX, section 1 of the Florida Constitution and Chs. 1003 Part III and 1006 Part C and ss. 943.687 and 30.15, Florida Statutes
Whom do I contact for help?