FL school safety conference begins amid TX shooting report

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FL school safety conference begins amid TX shooting report

As lawmakers in Texas pour over details of the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, school safety leaders in Florida are preparing to discuss how school safety is doing in the Sunshine State.

Roughly 1,000 people are expected to attend the 43rd annual School Safety Conference, which is being held for a second year in Orlando, Florida.

The mass shooting at Robb Elementary School, which left 21 people dead, reinvigorated the discussion on not only gun regulations, but school safety as well. 

While the shooting isn’t listed as a topic of discussion for the meeting hosted by the Florida Association of School Resource Officers (FASRO), the release of a 77-page preliminary report that pointed to “systemic failures” could make it a point of discussion for attendees. 

School safety receives new scrutiny 

The national calls for greater school safety were reignited by what happened in Uvalde, but states have been putting their own legislation into action following these tragedies.

In Florida, the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglass Elementary School prompted a local response to school safety with a series of bills that were introduced over the following years. 

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, since 2018, 78 bills have been introduced to address the topic of school safety, with the most coming in 2020 with 36. Of all of the bills, only seven were ultimately adopted or about 8.97% of all introduced.

That included one that came during 2022. HB 1421 was passed unanimously by the legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis in early June. The new law puts a number of new practices into effect such as:

  • Extending the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission
  • Requires all safe school officers to complete crisis intervention training
  • Requires school districts to annually certify that 80% or more of their personnel have gone through youth mental health awareness training

“This new law, which passed unanimously through the Florida Legislature, is an important next step in providing school safety assurances to families and students,” said Tony Montalto, the president of Stand with Parkland, at the time the bill was signed in a statement. “Florida will continue to do everything possible to make sure our schools meet the highest safety standards and that mental health issues associated with school violence are being addressed.”

According to data from the K-12 School Shooting Database, which is supported by the Center for Homeland Defense and Security, the number of incidents has been increasing since the 1970s with 2021 charting the highest number of non-active shooter incidents.

Incidents, whether with an active or non-active shooter, are described by researchers as “each and every instance a gun is brandished, is fired or a bullet hits school property for any reason, regardless of the number of victims, time of day or day or week.”

Data from recent years breaks down as follows:

  • 2022
    • Non-active shooter — 151
    • Active shooter — 2
  • 2021
    • Non-active shooter — 240
    • Active shooter — 9
  • 2020
    • Non-active shooter — 113
    • Active shooter — 1
  • 2019
    • Non-active shooter — 112
    • Active shooter — 7
  • 2018
    • Non-active shooter — 107
    • Active shooter — 11

The database also notes the number of those killed or significantly injured in gun-related incidents at schools were the highest in history in the last five years:

  • 2022 
    • Killed — 50
    • Injured — 111
  • 2021 
    •  Killed — 42
    • Injured — 151
  • 2020 
    • Killed — 27
    • Injured — 49
  • 2019 
    • Killed — 24
    • Injured — 95
  • 2018 
    • Killed — 51
    • Injured — 107

Researchers have also documented that the vast majority of school shooters were students of that school, representing 43.1% of those documented. And 20.4% of documented school shooters had no relation to the school impacted.

Escalating disputes were described as representing 37% of the situations in which school shootings occur with 10.4&, the next largest dynamic, being described as “accidental.”