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Parkland parent, experts say mental health at center of school safety debate

Texas School Shooting
Posted at 10:37 PM, May 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-25 23:20:56-04

TAMPA, Fla — Max Schachter said there's a pain, in the wake of the evade mass shooting, that few can identify with.

"It's just horrible that it's happening again," he said.

But as a parent who lost his son, Alex, in the Parkland shooting four years ago, he understands.

And in the time since he and other Parkland parents have worked to increase safety in Florida schools.

Max Schachter with his son Alex, who was killed in the Parkland school shooting

"We're doing things in Florida that no other state is doing," he said.

Those changes include mandatory threat assessment teams, an anonymous threat reporting system, minimums for school resource officers on school campuses, and more.

Wednesday local law enforcement and the Hillsborough County Public School (HCPS) District held a press conference to update the community on the safety measures they have in place.

"This type of behavior has no place in schools," HCPS Superintendent Addison Davis said.

Davis, and other leaders, say outside of physical safety measures and training, they're also beefing up other protections.

"We've also expanded mental health services," Davis said.

In the wake of the shooting in Texas, we also asked policing expert and Florida Gulf Coast University professor Dr. David Thomas, if more could be done in Florida schools.

"We've done everything that's almost feasible except for having a gate that actually closes and as a parent, I have to drive up and push the button and have that conversation, 'This is so and so,' with a camera facing them so they know who is coming in the school," he said.

If anything, Dr. Thomas says expanding mental health resources for everyone, especially after the pandemic, will be key.

And Schachter? Well, he's taking his school safety fight nationwide and working to get H.R. 750, also known as the Luke and Alex School Safety Act, passed by Congress.

"It would create a one-stop-shop for school safety best practices, resources, and grant dollars. And so the Luke and Alex School Safety Act takes that federal clearinghouse and makes it law," he said.

To learn more about currently suggested school safety guidelines, click here.