301.519.9237 exdirector@nesaus.org

6.7.24 – KTUL- Tulsa

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.

School security legislation that has passed in six other states, is now awaiting a signature from Governor Stitt.

This legislation known as Alyssa’s Law would require each school district in the state to implement a mobile panic alert system beginning next school year, but this legislation has raised questions for Oklahoma schools who were already required to implement such a system in 2022.

Oklahoma public schools are already required to implement the use of the Rave Panic Button, an app designed to reduce response times in the event of an emergency, but with the legislation that will soon be signed into law, schools will have the freedom to choose which panic alert system they use as well as opening up more funding for these systems.

“One click, the alert goes out to all law enforcement in the area, all school administrators,” said State Superintendent Ryan Walters.

Alyssa’s Law is legislation written to improve the response time of law enforcement during emergencies in public schools.

“If there is a life-threatening emergency situation, whether it’s a medical emergency or an active shooter, we want to empower our teachers to push a button and it’s directly linked to law enforcement. So they can get on the scene as quickly as possible and EMS to come in to triage any of the victims,” said Lori Alhadeff, Founder of Make Our Schools Safe. “Make Our School Safe is a nonprofit organization started after the tragedy at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. My daughter was Alyssa who was murdered that horrific day six years ago.”

She says one of the nonprofits’ priorities is passing Alyssa’s law nationwide as standard-level school safety protection.

“We’ve passed Alyssa’s law now in six States, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Tennessee, Utah, and Florida,” said Alhadeff.

House Bill 4073 which is sitting on the governor’s desk is modeled after Alyssa’s law.

“The one button, every teacher, every school personnel will have it downloaded on their phone,” said State Superintendent Ryan Walters.

But when NewsChannel 8 reached out to local school districts for comment on this legislation, we learned that they already have this button downloaded on their phone.

This is part of an executive order signed by Governor Stitt in 2022 following the Uvalde school shooting.

Every Oklahoma school district is required to implement the use of the Rave Panic Button.

“A couple of years ago, we started using a panic button by a company called Rave,” said Dr. Dan Hahn, the Middle School Principal at the Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences.

Hahn says all of the adults in the building have an app on their smartphones that they can use to signal any sort of emergency.

“You have these different options. The only one we’ve ever used is medical. You can see the the largest one is for an active assailant,” said Hahn.

He says that when the executive order was made, they were already looking for something like this for their school.

“I think the executive order rose out of a lot of schools looking for something like that already and those things being expensive,” said Hahn.

Hahn says these apps are paid for by the state.

The Oklahoma State Department of Education tells me that House Bill 4073 will open up more funding for these systems and will task the state board with adopting a list of additional approved systems that meet rigorous standards.

I also reached out to Representative Kevin Wallace, one of the authors of House Bill 4073.

While Wallace was unavailable for an interview, his office told me that this legislation would give schools the option to utilize any panic alert system approved by the Oklahoma State Board of Education.

House Bill 4073 was sent to the Governor last Thursday. While it’s unclear when it will get signed. Ryan Walters tells me he hopes the governor will sign it this week.