Adoption of Alyssa’s Law across the United States is picking up pace, with at least five states having passed their own versions as of the date of this post. Here’s what implementation and compliance look like so far.
Alyssa’s Law is legislation designed to improve and accelerate law enforcement response time during emergencies at public elementary and secondary schools. It’s being implemented on a state-by-state basis, which results in variation in requirement details. It has also been introduced at the federal level as a bill in Congress.
Under the state laws enacted to date, schools generally must implement, or consider implementing, silent panic alarm systems that connect to first responders. Each state has its own requirements for this silent panic alarm system, but elements that have appeared in one or more laws include:
- Silent panic button
- Connect to multiple emergency services communications
- Real-time communication between first responders & responding agencies
- Integrate with any pre-existing “public safety answering point infrastructure”
- Transmit all 911 calls & mobile activations
Below is a closer look at how Alyssa’s Law is being implemented in the states where it’s been enacted, including an overview of how to access funding.
Alyssa’s Law in Florida
During the 2020 legislative session, Florida lawmakers passed, and Florida’s governor signed into law, Alyssa’s Law. Accordingly, under the Florida statute, all Florida public schools, including charters, must implement “a mobile panic alert system capable of connecting diverse emergency services technologies to ensure real-time coordination between multiple first responder agencies.”
FLORIDA SCHOOL SECURITY FUNDING
Compliance for Florida schools became a requirement beginning with the 2021-2022 school year. The Florida Legislature allocated $6.4 million in recurring funds to help schools achieve compliance with Alyssa’s Law.
The plan includes a list of pre-approved vendors who can receive funding, however, school districts and charters may use a different vendor “whose solutions meet all statutory requirements.” This flexibility allows schools to continue working with previous technology vendors, or have autonomy to choose new ones that best meet their safety needs.
Alyssa’s Law in New Jersey
Alyssa’s Law became law in New Jersey on February 6th, 2019. The law requires that each public elementary and secondary school building shall be equipped with at least one panic alarm for use in a school security emergency. It has an added provision that an “alternative emergency mechanism approved by the [New Jersey] Department of Education” is suitable in place of a silent alarm system.
NEW JERSEY SCHOOL SECURITY FUNDING
The state has moved quickly to codify compliance procedures and support implementation with state-sponsored grant funding. Grant eligibility is determined via an application under the Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act. School districts shall use the grants as follows:
- To comply with Alyssa’s Law as set forth at N.J.A.C. 19:32A or through approval of an alternative emergency mechanism;
- Before expanding school security project grants for any other school security project, the school district must have complied fully with the requirements of Alyssa’s Law; and
- Any school security project grant funds not used for Alyssa’s Law compliance shall be used by school districts to comply with N.J.S.A. 18A:7G-5.2 [which requires certain school security measures to be incorporated in the architectural design of new school construction and certain school security measures for existing buildings].
The “alternative emergency mechanism” provision opens the door to approval of a wide range of physical security tools for proactive, automated emergency response, including advanced hybrid cloud platforms.
Alyssa’s Law in New York
New York has enacted a version of Alyssa’s Law that only requires school districts to consider adding silent panic alarms to their classrooms' safety plans. The bill was signed on June 23rd, 2022. The legislation was passed in tandem with a program convened by state leaders to detail new policies and procedures required under the law, along with recommendations for best practices for implementation.
NEW YORK SCHOOL SECURITY FUNDING
In 2014, New York voters approved the Smart Schools Bond Act (SSBA), an education technology initiative that in subsequent years has approved funding for:
- Entry control systems
- Video camera platforms
- Emergency classroom notification systems
Alyssa’s Law in Tennessee
The Tennessee version of Alyssa’s Law was signed into law on May 10, 2023. Like New York, Tennessee is only requiring that school districts consider adding silent panic alarms in their district-wide school safety plan; the provision is one element in a package of bills aimed at boosting school safety.
TENNESSEE SCHOOL SECURITY FUNDING
Grant funding for security upgrades consistent with the provisions of Alyssa’s Law may be accessible to schools and school districts through broader programs funded by the state. $40 million in grant funding for the FY 23-24 budget has been made available under the Public School Security Grant program to support school safety efforts, including improved physical school security. Potentially eligible solutions include ones for:
- Perimeter control
- Access control
- Vehicle control
- Visitor management
Silent panic alarm systems can be a component of a school’s effort to improve physical school safety. The program’s very broad mandate to ensure “Tennessee students have a safe school environment to learn, grow, and thrive” allows local education agencies generous latitude to partner with vendors and implement solutions that meet their specific budget and performance needs.
Alyssa’s Law in Texas
Texas adopted its version of Alyssa’s Law on May 5, 2023. The implementation is aggressive and applies to not only public schools, but also open-enrollment charter schools. The legislation requires that:
- Each school district and open-enrollment charter school shall provide each classroom in the district or school with silent panic alert technology.
- The technology must allow for immediate contact with district or school emergency services and emergency services agencies, law enforcement agencies, health departments, and fire departments.
TEXAS SCHOOL SECURITY FUNDING
Funding has already been approved by Governor Abbott and allocated by state lawmakers, who last year transferred $105.5 million into the state budget for school safety. $17.1 million of that allocation, called the 2022-2024 Silent Panic Alert Technology Grant (SPAT), will be used to fund the purchase of panic buttons in compliance with Alyssa’s Law requirements.
Additional school safety-related funding may be available via grant programs offered by the Texas Education Agency. For example, separate from SPAT is the 2022-2025 School Safety Standards Formula Grant, a larger program designed to help local education agencies with costs for cameras, monitoring tools, metal detectors & silent panic alarm systems.
The availability of different grants for campus security hardening—including access control, alarm, and monitoring systems—gives local education agencies abundant leeway to match their unique needs with the most appropriate solutions.
Learn More About Emergency Response
Many states and jurisdictions are implementing Alyssa’s Law in a way that provides local education leaders a high level of discretion in selecting technology partners and solutions for compliance. Visit our page here to learn more about how our hybrid cloud physical security tools allow organizations—including schools—to enhance their emergency management capabilities to better prepare for and respond to emergency scenarios.
*Disclaimer: The information in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as formal advice for any purpose. Verkada does not guarantee that your organization is eligible for any funding, and does not claim to meet the requirements of any particular legislation. You should consult with legal experts before taking any action. We make no representations or warranties about the accuracy or completeness of the information presented and may not maintain it. We are not responsible for any damages or losses that may occur because of your reliance on the information in this post.