The Luke and Alex School Safety Act is a bill raised by Senators Marco Rubio, Ron Johnson, and Rick Scott to address the issue of school safety. The report of the bill proposes the creation of a federal Clearinghouse by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on the best practices for school safety to be utilized in schools nationwide. There will be a federal online repository at SchoolSafety.gov that law enforcement offices, parents, teachers, and other stakeholders can use to enhance the security of educational institutions.
The saddening Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting incident in Florida, which claimed the lives of 17 individuals, including teenagers Luke Hoyer and Alex Schachter, served as the inspiration for the proposed legislation. Senator Rubio, the bill’s sponsor, urged Congress to pass it because he believes it will create safer schools.
In addition, the bill specifies that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must join forces with the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Judiciary to deliberate and recommend the best approaches for school safety. An advisory board will also be created to give feedback on the proposal and also make suggestions. Furthermore, the bill states the standards for what will qualify as best practices and recommendations of the clearinghouse. The criteria include proof that the proposed solutions will result in better health, security, and well-being of people.
Recommendations of the bill include collecting and analyzing clearinghouse data by the DHS, getting feedback from stakeholders that will implement the school safety recommendations, and conducting assessments on these recommendations and procedures.
Civil rights advocates have voiced concerns that the Luke and Alex School Safety Act bill may lead to the criminalization of children, which will be counter-productive to the main aim of keeping children safe. They believe that the bill fails to address the actual needs of the children and if implemented, may result in the marginalization of some children. Moreover, they believe that the DHS, an agency created to eliminate external threats and secure the borders, is not the right fit to tackle school safety issues. Oppositions to the bill suggest that trained professionals, stakeholders in the education sector, and concerned communities are more suitable to conduct efforts to keep the schools safe.
The bill, first introduced in 2019, was brought up again by Senator Rick Scott following the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Yet again, the bill did not pass through the Senate.