AUSTIN (KXAN) — A new law will require Texas schools to have silent panic alert systems in place to notify law enforcement and first responders of an emergency within seconds.
The bill requires Texas schools to have alert devices that immediately notify first responders of an emergency. The technology would lock down a school campus in cases of shootings, medical issues or other emergencies.
Gov. Greg Abbott had a bill signing ceremony Tuesday. But the money for the technology is not available until the 2024-25 fiscal period in the funds that lawmakers set aside for school safety.
The legislation is called “Alyssa’s Law” to honor 14-year-old Alyssa Alhadeff who was killed in the Parkland school shooting. Similar bills have passed in Florida, New York and New Jersey.
Alyssa’s mom, Lori Alhadeff, said the panic alert device could have helped law enforcement get into her daughter’s school quicker, get eyes on the shooter and save lives.
“Seconds really matter,” she said. “Time equals life.”
State Rep. Shawn Thierry, D-Houston, filed the companion bill and said this bill is “a game changer.” She said over 95% of school districts in Texas have already applied for the school safety allotment funding.
“What we witnessed in Uvalde was beyond a tragedy. We heard stories of children hunkered under their desks trying to use their own personal cell phones to call 911,” Thierry said. “That would not be the case.”
The devices will be required in all school districts and open-enrollment charter schools.
Implementation of the panic alert technology will take time for installation and training. It is not clear when exactly the devices will be installed in all Texas schools.