OK Legislature Passes 'Alyssa’s Law' to Enhance School Security

Wednesday, 05 June 2024 07:36

OK Legislature Passes 'Alyssa’s Law' to Enhance School Security Featured

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OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Legislature has taken a significant step toward ensuring the safety and security of students and staff in schools across the state with the passage of House Bill 4073, also known as “Alyssa’s Law.” This landmark legislation, authored by Rep. Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston, and Sen. Darrell Weaver, R-Moore, implements a mobile panic alert system in all school districts starting with the 2024-25 school year.

The act is named after Alyssa Alhadeff, a 14-year-old student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. She was the victim of a school shooter who killed 17 people on Feb. 14, 2018.

Key Features of Alyssa’s Law include:

  • Real-time coordination: The mobile panic alert system will connect emergency service technologies to ensure real-time coordination among multiple first responder agencies.
  • Enhanced 911 integration: The system will integrate with public safety answering point infrastructure to transmit 911 calls and mobile activations, providing immediate alerts to designated school personnel.
  • Comprehensive emergency response: Emergency responders will receive vital information such as floor plans and caller location to assist during emergencies, ensuring a prompt and efficient response.

“We’ve prioritized school safety over the past couple of years, and Alyssa’s law ties school security together by coordinating our schools and law enforcement," Rep. Wallace said. "The most secure buildings have vulnerabilities when communication isn’t clear.”

By adopting HB 4073, the Oklahoma Legislature also has ensured local school choice and free market competition for school mobile panic button systems. The legislation tasks the State Board of Education with adopting a list of approved mobile panic alert systems that meet rigorous standards. These systems must:

  1. Automatically alert designated school personnel during an emergency initiated by smartphone application, phone call, text message, or other technology.
  2. Provide emergency responders with critical situational information during a 911 call.
  3. Integrate designated school personnel with emergency responders for real-time situational updates.

Sen. Weaver added, “Allowing the best private vendors to show our schools their options was a priority for us while making sure any school security system adheres to common standards. In the end, we wanted to provide our local schools the ability to choose the school security system that best fits their needs.”

HB 4073 also allows schools to tap into existing funding under the “School Security Revolving Fund.” The Legislature has made historic investments for Oklahoma student safety, totaling $50 million a year for the School Security Revolving Fund. This funding will support school mobile panic alert systems.

“Passage of Alyssa’s Law is a monumental achievement for the safety of our students and school staff,” said State Superintendent Ryan Walters. “This legislation ensures that our schools are equipped with the necessary tools to respond swiftly and effectively to emergencies, providing peace of mind to parents, students and educators alike.”

HB 4073 has been sent to the governor for his consideration of signing it into law.

 

Kevin Wallace serves District 32 of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. His district includes Lincoln County and parts of Logan and Payne counties.

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