Voicing deep concern for the “unthinkable pain and grief” fostered by school shooting events in America, Congressman Fred Upton has been joined today by his Democratic New Jersey colleague Josh Gottheimer in rolling out what they are calling Alyssa’s Legacy Youth in School Safety Alert Act — or simply the ALYSSA Act.
The measure is a school safety legislation plan named after Alyssa Alhadeff who died in the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018. Sunday marked the third anniversary of that shooting.
The ALYSSA Act is bipartisan federal legislation to require silent panic alarms in all schools to immediately alert law enforcement of an active shooter situation. The bill would also increase investment in more well-trained School Resource Officers, to help protect students and faculty.
Upton says, “Too often in recent years, parents have sent their children to school – and tragically it would be the last time they saw them. The pain and grief is unthinkable. We have to do more to put an end to school shootings in this country.” He tells us, “The ALYSSA Act is a concrete, common sense step to better protect our children and our schools. As I reached out to my education and law enforcement leaders, they all concurred that doing anything to shorten the time for a response is a very good thing that ultimately saves lives.“
Congressman Gottheimer adds, “We are here today to honor Alyssa and turn her memory, and the pain her family and friends carry every day, into action. We are here to announce bipartisan legislation — the ALYSSA Act — to help protect children, like Alyssa, and all students, in the one public place they should feel safest: their schools.” Gottheimer says, “Together, with silent alarms in every school directly connected to local law enforcement agencies and with School Resource Officers at more schools around the country, we are taking concrete steps to help further protect our children in their schools.”
Lori Alhadeff, the mother of Alyssa Alhadeff and co-founder of Make Our Schools Safe, says, “In a life threatening emergency situation, seconds count. The ALYSSA Act will save lives by empowering our teachers to push a button that is directly linked to law enforcement. The ALYSSA Act needs to be an equitable, standard level of school safety protection in every school around the country. This is a movement and together we will Make Our Schools Safe!”
According to the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics, only 29-percent of schools currently report using silent alarms that are directly connected to local law enforcement.
The bipartisan ALYSSA Act includes the following provisions:
Provision I — Silent Panic Alarms
There are more than 98,000 public schools in the United States and, under this legislation, all that receive federal funding under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) will be required to install silent alarms, which can average $1,000 per school.
These silent alarms are utilized by schools in the case of an emergency such as a lockdown or active-shooter situation. When activated, the alarms remain silent in the building and alert local law enforcement to the emergency via a signal or message.
Provision II — School Resources Officers
Going a step further, this bill will also ensure every school has access to School Resource Officers (SROs).
Currently, grants for SROs are available under the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, however, there is no guaranteed funding stream to bring SROs to every school nationwide.
This legislation will cut federal red-tape to provide for specially-designated investment in bringing trained SROs to all schools, without having to meet additional complicated and changing standards from the U.S. Department of Justice.